Should We be Drinking from the Enemy’s Well?

USAF 204th Fighter Wing Over Kuwait - Public Domain Photo

I remember being chided by some fellow bar patrons for having a misplaced sense of patriotism after ordering a screwdriver made with Russian vodka. This particular political skirmish occurred in September of 1983, a few days after Korean Airlines Flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet SU-15 Flagon Interceptor. My response to the reproach was the rather flip remark of a much younger man, “Gentlemen if I were to give up drinking the alcoholic beverage of every country that I had a beef with, I’d soon have to give up drinking altogether.”

Looking back, I question my earlier wisdom and wonder now if we should be providing aid and economic support to those whose values and behaviors are in conflict with ours. Beyond the moral implications, there is the pragmatic aspect of drinking from the enemy’s well. When the relationship eventually sours either access to the well is denied, or the owner poisons the waters. As the price for a gallon of gas has yet again broken the three dollar mark because of this current round of unrest in the Middle East, Americans once more must question an energy policy that is dependent upon the reasonable conduct of despots, tyrants and thugs.

The seeds of our own revolution were planted in part when Great Britain implemented The Sugar Act of 1769. This burdensome tax on molasses imported from the West Indies led to the ruin of the once thriving rum industry in colonial New England. In response the colonists utilized native crops in order to continue the production of quality spirits. Today that same Yankee ingenuity carries on in the fast-growing field of micro-distillation. Companies like Philadelphia Distilling and Finger Lakes Distilling are among the over two hundred smaller suppliers that are providing their American clientele with premium potables without the words “Imported from…” being on the label.

Perhaps it is time that those in charge of crafting our nation’s energy policy adopt a similar homegrown approach to the problem. I just hope that we don’t ever get into a squabble with Scotland—because I still haven’t found a domestic distiller that can duplicate the distinct finish and flavor of the Balvenie Double Wood.

Posted by: Chris Poh

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All soccer teams report to the Holodeck!

There are many reasons why awarding the World Cup in 2022 to the tiny nation of Qatar is ridiculous, not least of which is that temperatures average over 100 degrees in the summer, which are not exactly the kind of conditions in which one should be running around a field for 90 minutes.  But fear not sports fans, the Qataris are working on the solution, a remote controlled cloud.

Qatar's proposed remote-controlled cloud

Yes, you read that correctly.  According to reports, Qatar is working on developing and manufacturing a solar powered artificial cloud that would hover over the playing fields and provide shade from the blistering sun.  (To be fair, the also say they will air-condition the outdoor stadiums, another claim I don’t have much confidence in.)  I think it is time for Qatar to stop these pipe dreams and turn to the tried and tested Holodeck technology found on the USS Enterprise.  I mean, we already know how well that thing works!  That way, instead of a scorching desert the teams can play in any conditions they like.  Maybe the pregame coin toss can determine who kicks off and which team gets to pick the settings for the Holodeck.

We can even play the World Cup Final on the deck of the HMS Bounty

No matter what the Qataris claim they can devise to solve the issue of temperature the fact remains the players will be playing in a furnace.  FIFA better hope Qatar actually comes up with some seriously fascinating inventions to capture the attention of the media because we can be certain the heat will reduce the quality of play to something resembling snails migrating.

by Dave McBride

 


Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How I spent my Saint Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is certainly a fun day for me, but is also a very busy one.  I make my living as a musician, and I have been known to sing more than a few Irish folk tunes in my day.  So St. Patty’s Day, while certainly a fun celebration, is a big business day for me as well.  This year, like the last few years, I spent it playing at an exemplary Irish pub in Cranford, NJ called the Kilkenny House.

St. Pattys Day crowd at the Kilkenny House spills out into the streets

First, let me just say I simply love this place.  It is a true Irish pub, run by great people and frequented by regulars who love Irish music, good drink, and a great pub.  On Saint Patrick’s Day it seems all the regulars come to celebrate at their favorite place and they each bring a dozen of their best friends with them!  Needless to say the place was predictably packed, so much so that the crowd spilled out onto the the streets, soaking in the wonderful weather and the perfect pints.

Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale

Speaking of perfect pints, the Kilkenny House had a pleasantly welcome surprise for me on this most joyous of holidays.  It seems the week before they received a few barrels of my favorite Irish beer, Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale.  Like I said a couple of weeks ago on this blog, if you were able to find this brew at your Irish Pub of choice on Saint Patrick’s Day you should consider yourself luck.  Well, thankfully that luck found me!

By Dave McBride


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

The day has arrived. It’s time to sing Irish songs, lift a good pint and wear the green. The pages of the American Public House Review are filled with great places to enjoy the holiday, and for that I suggest you check out the “Celtic Pubs” section of the Backbar. But to celebrate the season, this week we bring you new articles from two top Irish pubs.

McGovern's in Newark, NJ

The first is the story of Newark’s legendary Irish institution, McGovern’s. The second comes from the Finger Lakes and Maloney’s pub in Hammondsport, NY.

from inside Maloney's in Hammondsport, NY

So from all of us here at Pub Talk and the American Public House Review, we wish you safe and fun Saint Patrick’s Day. Slainte!

By Dave McBride

 

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Countdown to St. Patty’s Day; Malachy’s McCourt’s History of Ireland

In today’s installment of our Countdown to St. Patty’s Day, I thought I would assist those who are looking for a good book or two to learn more about Ireland and her history. So let me suggest a volume I feel can serve as a worthy introduction to the subject, Malachy McCourt’s History of Ireland.

A few weeks before I made my own journey across the pond to Ireland, I thought it made sense to brief myself a bit on its history. For this purpose, I chose McCourt’s book only because I was slightly familiar with the author and his sense of humor through a few television interviews I had seen with him. I was hoping his personality would come through to his written word, and I was not disappointed.

Malachy McCourt

If you are a serious history buff and require great detail in your books, this one might not be for you. McCourt is not a historian, but clearly it was not his intention to masquerade as one here. He works his way through the centuries, from Brian Boru and the vikings all the way to modern Irish figures ranging from Gerry Adams and Bobby Sands to Bono and James Joyce. Without bogging you down in a swamp of dates and figures, McCourt offers up just enough of each event and personality. He not only informs you, but he succeeds in heightening your curiosity to learn more about his native home. Perhaps more importantly, after reading History of Ireland, I was simply amazed by the drama and emotion that has made the Emerald Isle what it is today.

If you venture into a pub in Dublin, or anywhere in Ireland for that matter, and ask a friendly local a question about one of the city’s statues or buildings, you likely will get an answer that is all at once irreverent, humorous and informative. This type of legendary storytelling is what makes the Irish so welcoming, and McCourt brings that charm to his book.

I certainly finished this book better informed for my trip, though I couldn’t help but wonder if McCourt wasn’t pulling my leg a bit, which I imagine is exactly what he intended. But do not misunderstand my meaning, there is certainly an appreciation and respect for the people and subjects within these pages. There is an emotional connection here between the author and his subject. But as I learned on my trip, it is a rare Irishman who would pass up the chance to entertain an audience.

By Dave McBride


Published in: Uncategorized on March 16, 2011 at 8:18 am  Comments (1)  

Countdown to St. Patty’s Day; the Palm Trees of Ireland

In today’s installment of Pub Talk’s Countdown to St. Patty’s Day, we take you to County Kerry on the west coast of Ireland to show you some of the Emerald Isle’s more tropical scenery.

palm trees in Ireland

I loved this photograph from the moment I took it.  Believe it or not, I was trying just to photograph the Guinness Bar sign.  It wasn’t until after looking at the photo on the screen did I realize there were palm trees!  I had to look up and ask the folks around me if they really were palm trees.  After looking at me a bit strange they said yes, and these are not the only palm trees I would find in Ireland.

Kilorglin, County Kerry

The photo was taken outside the Red Fox Inn, which is part of the Kerry Bog Village.  Located just outside the town of Kilorglin along the Ring of Kerry, a breathtaking road winding along the southwest coast, the Village is a historical site which recreates rural Ireland of the 18th century.  But like any good tourist destination in Ireland, and any worthy stop along a well travelled thoroughfare, it also has watering hole.  (And palm trees!)

by Dave McBride


Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 10:07 am  Comments (1)  
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Countdown to St. Patty’s Day; Our Annual Pilgrimage to Jim Thorpe, PA

Today we find ourselves only one week from Saint Patrick’s Day.  And since the upcoming weekend is one normally filled with holiday celebrations, I thought I might take this opportunity to suggest a place to get your Irish on, Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

© Kathleen Connally

It seems every Saint Patrick’s Day, we here at Pub Talk and the American Public House Review make some mention of the St. Patty’s Day Parade in Jim Thorpe.  That’s because all of us have a true affection for the event and the people we have met there over the years.  For us, it is trip we look forward to for most of the year, and one the never seems to disappoint.  Let me just say this without getting in to too much detail,   the folks of Jim Thorpe know how to honor the holiday properly.

So if you plan on heading out to Jim Thorpe this weekend, be ready for something near an Irish-American Mardi Gras.  And if you know where to go and who to ask, you may just find most of the staff of the American Public House Review taking in the festivities.  We will either be tending bar, hanging precariously out of windows, singing Irish songs, or trading shots of whiskey for musket-fire.  It’s just all in a day’s work here at the Review!

by Dave McBride


Countdown to St. Patty’s Day; Michael Collins, the man and the whiskey

What would be a St. Patty’s Day Countdown without a suggestion or two for the perfect Irish Whiskey to toast in the holiday?  My personal favorite for just the right drop of the “water of life” is Michael Collins.  (Well, let me clarify that and say “one” of my favorites!  There is a reasonable chance this not the only whiskey to feature in our countdown.)

This fantastic whiskey comes from the “last independent distillery in Ireland”, the Cooley Distillery in County Louth on the northeast coast of the Republic of Ireland.  Besides being very, very drinkable, Michael Collins is best known because it bares the name of one of Ireland’s greatest heroes and someone who should be remembered by all who celebrate during the Saint Patrick’s Day season.

Collins was born in West Cork in 1890 to a family of 8 children.  He was the youngest of three sons and his father’s namesake.  The young Michael was only six years old when his father died.  On his deathbed, the elder Collins was said to have told his family the boy would one day do great things for Ireland, certainly a prophetic statement.

Michael Collins was among those who took part in the Easter Rising of 1916, the event that set in motion a pathway to Irish independence.  In the years following the Rising, Collins rose to became a leader in the Republican movement.  He led a successful underground guerilla war against the Crown, essentially crushing the British Intelligence forces in Ireland, and grew into a mythic figure in the process.  He subsequently took part in the negotiations with the United Kingdom for Ireland’s independence.  The treaty he signed, however, caused a split in the republican movement and  a brutal civil war followed.  Collins was shot and killed in the town of Beal na mBlath in his native County Cork in 1922.

Michael Collins may only have lived barely more than thirty years, but in that time he accomplished things most men could only dream to accomplish in a full lifetime.  There is so much more about the “Big Fellow” I could say, but many authors have done a far better and more thorough job of telling his story than I ever possibly could.  So instead I ask that this Saint Patrick’s Day you raise a glass with me, perhaps of Michael Collins Whiskey, and toast to one of Ireland’s great patriots.

By Dave McBride

 


Countdown to St. Patty’s Day; Apparently Now Everybody’s Irish

Corrigan Brothers 2012

In yesterday’s post we learned a bit about President Barack Obama’s Celtic roots, thanks in no small part to the musical genius and handiwork of the Corrigan Brothers. This talented trio from County Tipperary, now living and taking their libations in Limerick, have once again reminded us of that all of humanity is bound by a common thread and a divine spark. We are all Irish–Especially on St. Patrick’s Day!

The Corrigan BrothersSo let us raise a pint and join Gerald, Brian and Donncha Corrigan as they perform what will most likely become Erin’s next great anthem!

Click on the You Tube link to hear “Saint Patrick’s Day (everybody’s Irish)”

Posted by: Chris Poh

Countdown to St. Patty’s Day; Saluting our Commander-in-Celtic Chief

Corrigan Brothers Cover ArtWhile there are those who still question the constitutional legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency, most Americans accept that he was born on American soil, assuming that one  accepts the possibility that a chain of lava spewing volcanic islands in the South Pacific  could legally qualify for statehood in the first place. Perhaps this is where the so-called “birthers”  should actually be focusing their attention. And the rest of us can just take comfort in the fact that, like so many other truly great American statesmen, Mr. Obama can trace a bit of his heritage to the Emerald isle.

 A combination of church, census and genealogical records has  revealed that in 1850, the President’s great-great-great grandfather, Fulmuth Keary, left his native home in Moneygall, Ireland to immigrate  to America. 

Starry Plough - Berkely, CA

The Corrigan Brothers (aka Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys) soon after wrote and recorded a song celebrating Mr. Obama’s ties to Erin. Along the way a number of Irish troubadours have added a few of their own verses to the song. My favorite rendition comes by way of Shay Black caught on video during a live session at the Starry Plough in Berkeley, California. Click on the You Tube link to catch that classic ode to our Commander-in-Celtic Chief. 

 

 

Posted by: Chris Poh

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