It might seem obvious to us now that the combination of coffee, whiskey and cream is the perfect winter warmer but officially the Irish coffee was only created in 1942.
Considered by some to be one of the best cocktails of all time, the Irish Coffee was born, like so many things were out of war-time necessity and has gone on to be a staple of every Irish bar across the world.
As the story goes, it was a chef named Joe Sheridan who ran a restaurant at the Foynes airbase (which has since become the Shannon International Airport) outside Limerick in Ireland, created the drink to keep travellers warm.
It seems an evening flight returned to the airport after a failed attempt to reach New York during a winter storm. Sheridan mixed up the first round of Irish coffees for the stranded passengers and became an immediate success.
A Few years later in 1952, a travel writer by the name of Stanton Delaplane brought the recipe to the United States, specifically to the attention of bartender Jack Koeppler at San Francisco’s Buena Vista Hotel.
Joe Sheridan is belived to have create a verse that explains how to make a true Irish coffee:
Cream – Rich as an Irish Brogue
Coffee – Strong as a Friendly Hand
Sugar – Sweet as the tongue of a Rogue
Whiskey – Smooth as the Wit of the Land
And the verse is important because the problem with most Irish coffees is that they often have too much coffee, too much whiskey, really bad cream or are just too sweet.
Like any drink that you make, the aim is to find a balance where every element has its place but no one part of the drink overshadows the others.
A couple of pointers that are important.
- Firstly the cream must not be over-whipped (still very much pourable).
- Secondly, the coffee must be piping hot and strong. In fact, the only mildly intimidating thing about this recipe is the pouring of the cream over the back of a teaspoon, a technique ensuring that the heavy cream spreads and remains sitting over the surface of the coffee, as opposed to sinking
With this said, it’s important to use good ingredients, so do everyone a favour and buy decent cream, use a decent coffee blend and for the sake of all that is Irish, actually use a decent Irish Whiskey.
4oz coffee (strong & hot)
1.5 oz Irish Whiskey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1oz heavy cream (lightly whipped)
Place brown sugar. Into a warm Irish coffee glass, mug, or other heat-proof glass. Add the coffee and stir until desolved. Add the Irish Whiskey and stir again. Float the lightly whipped heavy cream on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon.