Your master plan for a potato cannon that slings chili cheese fries may not have made it past the patent office, but that doesn’t mean that all ideas born over a few drinks are bunk. Every once in a while, a concept scrawled on a cocktail napkin can change the world.
Take Jameson Caskmates, a new take on Ireland’s most eminent whiskey. It’s the brainchild of a whiskey distiller, a beer brewer, and a few pints. Inspired by Caskmates’ beginnings, this guide explores the magic that can happen when you’re at the pub and ingenuity strikes. Below are five favorites that may inspire you to bring a whiteboard to your next happy hour:
There are a couple competing accounts of the birth of buffalo wings, each more colorful than the last. It is known that Teressa Bellissimo, proprietress of the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY (hence the name), came up with the idea in 1964. But pinning down the details gets messier than a variety basket of bar food.
According to the Teressa’s husband, she created the popular appetizer after accidentally receiving a shipment of wings instead of chicken necks, which the family used in spaghetti sauce. But their son has another version of the story: in the ‘60s, many of the bar’s patrons avoided red meat and poultry on Fridays. He claims that the bar threw together the wings late one Friday evening to serve to some clients as a midnight snack.
The Modern Straw
Drinking straws date back to the ancient Sumerians, but the kind we know and love can be traced back to one creative drinker in the 1880s. Inventor Marvin Chester Stone was at his home in D.C, relaxing after a long day with a mint julep. Unfortunately, his straw — a long tube composed of rye — was shredding, imparting a less-than-desirable grassy flavor to his drink. A devout bourbon-and-mint purist, Stone wrapped paper around a pencil to create a tube, removed the pencil, then glued the strips together. Eventually he refined the device and replaced the glue with wax, so it didn’t melt into the drink.
The bendy part wasn’t added until 1930. Inventor Joseph B. Friedman was at a soda fountain in San Francisco when he noticed that his young daughter, Judith, was having trouble with her milkshake. Little Judith was too short to reach the top of the straw with her mouth, and the milkshake went frustratingly un-drank. Friedman had a simple solution: he slipped a straw over a screw and used dental floss to imprint the screw’s grooves in the paper. In that moment the bendy straw was born, and the world has enjoyed just a little more flexibility to this day.
As legend has it, Discovery Channel executives John Hendricks, Clark Bunting, and Steve Cheskin had gathered in a nearby bar for an “after-work brainstorming session,” and the ideas started coming in fast. Due perhaps to the foggy nature of its origin, nobody can seem to remember exactly who first shouted: “You know what would be awesome? Shark Week!” All we know is that the rest is (toothy, terrifying) history.
The Laffer Curve
With the Reagan administration safely in hindsight, it’s hardly a shock that one of the key concepts behind trickle-down economics came about after a few drinks. In 1974 Jude Wanniski, then-associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, attended a dinner with Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and professor Arthur Laffer of The University of Chicago. When the conversation turned to taxes, Dr. Laffer is said to have grabbed his napkin and drawn a simple graph representing the tradeoff between tax rates and tax revenues. The graph, which later became known as the Laffer Curve, was popularized by Wanniski in the Wall Street Journal, and later became a linchpin in Reagan’s economic platform during his 1980 presidential campaign.
So what happens when the Master Brewer from the Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork, Ireland shares a few pints with the Master Distiller of Jameson Irish whiskey? Pure magic.
This barside meeting of the minds resulted in a novel idea: Jameson sent some of their whiskey barrels to Franciscan Well, where they were used to age their Irish stout. Once seasoned with the stout, the barrels returned to the Jameson distillery, where they were filled with the famous triple-distilled spirit they’re known for. The result is Jameson Caskmates, a head-turning, modern Irish whiskey with notes of coffee, cocoa, and butterscotch, best enjoyed on the rocks or neat.
JAMESON® Irish Whiskey. 40% Alc./Vol. (80 Proof). Product of Ireland. ©2015 Imported by John Jameson Import Company, Purchase, NY. Taste responsibly.
Anna Schumacher has written for Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, Esquire, and more. Her debut novel, END TIMES, is out now from Penguin/Razorbill books. Follow her at @SchumacherYA.