Irish Coffee at Delicatus Thankfully Not Yet Illegal

Seattle, look into the face of your creamy destruction and despair...

Legal Speedballs is a brand-new Voracious column beginning in the wake of nation-wide caffeinated alcoholic beverage bans. The primary goal of the article is to explore both well-known and more obscure "speedballs" within the Seattle bars that have every legal right to serve them.

With the increasing amount of ambiguities, half-truths and apparent hypocrisies that caffeine+booze bans have aggravated for drinker and brewer alike, Legal Speedballs seeks to answer a question that transcends being able to pick up a novelty-sized can of 26 proof Fruit Punch from your local cornerstore: do Washingtonians need to be protected from Four Loko, from themselves, or from frivolous legislation?

This Week's Suspect: When thinking about the recent rash of hyperactive college drunks desperately competing to out-coma one another, Irish Coffee isn't exactly the most culpable enabler. More acquainted with spunky grandmothers and drowsy bartenders than your average lethal bender, Irish Coffee has become somewhat of a symbol for healthy and responsible alcohol consumption. After all, what's wrong with a little nip of rye in your afternoon cup of joe?

While often thought of as a concoction as old as whiskey itself, Irish Coffee has been attributed to many different bartenders, but never before World War 2. Strangely, the person I've seen credited who actually lived in Ireland is a bartender from Donegal whose origin story reads more or less like a bastardization of the Sidecar's. Irish Coffee's nebulous origin is important, because it gives it something slightly more potent than a measurable history. Irish Coffee is more of an idea than something that can be put down to a an exact recipe, despite the National Standards Authority of Ireland having published a perfect ratio for the drink that I assume someone on the planet has to care about.

Irish Coffee may have the disarming power of a simple and universal appeal, but is that enough to surmount the increasingly obvious idea that mixing stimulants and depressants doesn't have a healthy history of working out?

The Bar: Delicatus (Pioneer Square) is primarily known as a delicatessen that seeks to meld an old Eastern European sensibility to fresh local ingredients. It has a compact, no-nonsense bar, varied enough to rotate a few seasonal cocktails but focussed mainly on accomodating hearty cocktail staples like Bloody Marys and, of course, Irish Coffee.

Delicatus prepares their non-NSAI-standard Irish Coffee with Pangaea Organica grounds via french press, raw cane sugar, Jameson Irish Whiskey and hand-whipped cream. It's a great marriage of a bold blend and a mild whiskey with a fresh, milky blanket to ease it down at your own pace.

The barkeep Michelle wasn't too receptive to comparisons of their hot, steamy goodness to the forbidden canned heart-attacks; certainly there was a gaping chasm in drinkability, but Michelle's qualms with the beverage extended beyond the usual fearmongering. Four Loko and its hyper-processed energy drink ilk go against very central ideas of Delicatus's austere cuisine. Similarly, Delicatus may serve Jaegermeister, but forgoes stocking its frequent partner-in-crime, Red Bull.

Threat to Society: One out of Four Lokos. Even ignoring the fact that Irish Coffee is exponentially more difficult to chug than fellow legal speedballs, there's something about Irish Coffee that seems too familiar to abuse. It would seem that this respectable foe to the human heart and nervous system got that way for its trustworthy non-alcoholic elements.

As the rage against caffeinated alcoholic beverages continues, intelligent discourse might lead to an inspiring place of reason, where we as a nation stop blaming alcohol for adverse effects from all of the other chemicals we force down the throats of our young without a second thought. Perhaps this argument isn't a backwards-minded throwback to prohibition, but rather steps towards a healthier drunk.

However, I doubt my optimism will last through a single Rum and Coke.

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