A Beginner's Lesson in Guinness and Four Cocktails to Get You Started

First of all, lets start off with a little debunking about what Guinness is and is not.

It is not motoroil. It is not heavy or thick. It does not have a harsh or overly bitter flavor. You're thinking of IPAs.

Guinness is light. It is creamy and smooth with only the slightest hint of carbonation. It is malty with undertones of coffee and chocolate. It is rich tasting, sure, but that should not be confused with being heavy. If you have tried porters or other stouts - especially flavored ones - and been put off by syrupy finish, don't be. Guinness is a stout unto itself. Comparisons cannot be made.

While the brew is certainly a bit dense due to the lack of excessive (read: harsh) carbonation, Guinness is in fact so light, that when mixed with other brews, it floats on top.

Now, the purists, of course, will tell you to just leave the Guinness alone in all its creamy glory and drink it as is. Find a pub that stores and pours it properly, wait for the foam to completely separate, and then drink it in about 10 "manly" swallows. No sipping, no mincing, and, for the love of God, no nursing.

We will now break for some Guinness porn...

...And we're back. You OK?

Learning to love Guinness is a rite of passage, one that - like building a proper pint - takes time. A good way to ease yourself into it is to try a few Guinness cocktails. After all, even true Guinness lovers like to shake things up every once in while.

The most well-known of the Guinness cocktails is the Irish Car Bomb. Now, though the "bomb" bit actually comes from the fact that this is technically a bomb shot, the "car" bit is a reference to the IRA blowing a lot of stuff up in Northern Ireland a few years back. As such, many actual Irish people find the name offensive. This mix of whiskey, Bailey's, and Guinness is a strictly American invention though, so just don't order it if you find yourself on the Emerald Isle and you'll be fine.

The Black and Tan is the second best known Guinness mix. If you are a beer lover who tends to drink light or pale brews are you're looking to branch out, this is the brew for you. You can actually buy bottled Black and Tan - don't do that. First, a bartender pours in the pale ale - usually Bass - then the Guinness is added slowly, poured in over the back of the spoon. This is done to slow the pour since the goal is to keep the much lighter Guinness on top, not mix it together. Harp Lager can also be used, but then it is technically a Half and Half - which sounds dirty.

OK - technically a Black Velvet is a mixture of champagne and Guinness. (Tried it - it's gross.) When it's Guinness over cider, it's a Poor Man's Black Velvet or a Black Adder. (But seriously, when you order it just say Black Velvet. They'll know you mean cider.) Call it whatever you like, the cloying sweetness of the cider is cut perfectly by the subtle malty bitterness of the Guinness. It's a match made in heaven. Drink it. Drink it all the time.

This one is probably more what you picture when you read the word "cocktail." This is called Port o' Call Cocktail and it is a mix of Guinness, cognac, crème de cacao, bitters, and orange zest. Fancy. Make sure to bookmark the BonAppetit.com recipe link in your phone when you order this one from the bartender.

As you tip these back on St. Patrick's Day, or any time, make sure you give an (actual) Irish blessing:

May those who love us, always love us. And those that don't love us, may God turn their hearts. And if he doesn't turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles so we will know them by their limping. Sláinte!

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