There was a short time of my life when I used to hang out with actors (I had my reasons). And some of them used to drink Black Velvet – i.e. Guinness and cider - because it was supposed to be good for the voice – it “opened the throat” apparently. I used to drink it too, though my throat didn’t need any opening.
Of course we weren’t drinking real Black Velvet: that involves Guinness and champagne and was created by a bartender of Brooks's Club in London in 1861, to mourn the death of Prince Albert. I didn't actually know that until about ten minutes ago.
Over the years I stopped drinking Black Velvet, and I can’t say I really missed it, but lately, when given the chance, I’ve been drinking it again. Here’s a very decent one I had at Dargan’s, an Irish bar in Ventura. The cider was Strongbow, the first alcohol that a whole generation of teenage English drinkers ever tasted. Or perhaps that's just me.
The best thing is that you drink the cider through the Guinness – it all has to do with specific gravity, no doubt. If you’re interested, that’s a Snakebite in the back – half cider, half Harp lager.
Back in the Psychogourmet Utility Kitchen I’ve been trying to do something similar but different– and a bit classier – Freixenet cava and Big Bear Black Stout.
It tasted good enough but as you can see, there wasn’t the separation I was looking for. And Big Bear Black Stout is a big chewy, fudgy, liquorice-ish mouthful so it was a bit like drinking dessert. Still, there’s plenty of time for further experimentation.
Now, as you may know, I am a man who is, or at least used to be, deeply fascinated by Volkswagen Beetles, and blow me down, a stash of Guinness advertising posters has been found. I must say my first reaction that it was a lark painted by Bruce McCall, but as far as I can tell, they're, so to speak, kosher.
Those fine neutral men at Guinness evidently decided they could shift some units in the Third Reich. The People’s car, the People’s beer. Well, only up to a point.