Irish coffee is the perfect beverage to have on a cold winter’s day or night whilst sitting by the comforts of a toasty fire. Irish coffee was created in the winter of 1943 by Joe Sheridan, chef at Foynes Port near Limerick, Ireland.
Foynes had become one of the biggest airports in Europe during World War II and then an airbase for flights that primarily carried political or Hollywood figures. The airbase was mainly used as a simple stopover for longer flights to refuel aircraft and occasionally due to weather conditions, passengers were required to stay the night – which is where a restaurant was created to cater to their needs.
One evening, a flight had to turn back to Foynes base and out of empathy for the cold and delayed passengers, Chef Joe Sheridan constructed something special for them to enjoy.
After this, Irish coffee became a huge success and an airport masterpiece and made its way over to the United States due to travel writer, Stanton Delaplane which is where he brought it to the attention of Jack Koeppler, a bartender at the Buena Vista H
otel in San Francisco and persuaded him to recreate it. Unfortunately, the cream kept sinking when Koeppler tried to make the coffee, so he travelled to Ireland to learn the correct way to make it from Chef Joe Sheridan himself.
Irish coffee is very simple to make yourself and only consists of four key ingredients. These are – freshly brewed black coffee, double cream, brown sugar and most importantly Irish whiskey. While it is mostly common to use whisky such as Jameson or Tullamore DEW, you are free to choose any brand you please. For example, the go-to whiskey at Grafton Street is Glendalough which gives extra peppery notes.
Step 1: Lightly whip the cream just so it’s very slightly thickened, then set aside.
Step 2: Pour the hot coffee into a mug or heatproof glass, then add the whiskey and sugar.
Step 3: Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Step 4: Gently float the cream on the top and serve.
Once blended, these authentic ingredients will give a blissful balance of hot and cold, bitter and sweet, with not one element outshining another. Disregarding this, it is important to remember that like most cocktails, ratio matters when making Irish coffee. Too much whiskey will lose the coffee’s bold richness but too little, you won’t taste it at all.
There are also many new variants to the classic recipe that use white sugar cubes or even maple syrup. Whilst these are interesting variations if you wish to experience the authentic and original re
cipe, stick to the brown granulated sugar. It doesn’t end there though!
If you wish to add something extra to your Irish coffee, you can include, honey in replacement of brown sugar, nutmeg sprinkled on top of the cream for that extra nutty and woody flavour or even cinnamon on top of the cream for a slight spiciness. You can even enjoy a traditional Irish coffee with a vegan substitute of coconut cream if you wish.
A small tip to also consider is, to prevent the cream from sinking to the bottom of the glass bartender Jack Koeppler found, pouring the cream slowly will ensure it sits nicely on top of the Irish coffee.
The best Irish coffee can be found, of course, in Ireland!
The top venues to enjoy traditional Irish coffee are, The Brazen Head in Dublin – One of Ireland’s oldest pubs, Garavan’s in the heart of Galway city which is greatly renowned for its Irish coffee, Harlem Café which is based in Belfast and can provide the perfect bistro lunch alongside your Irish coffee and finally the place where it all began – Foynes in Country Limerick.
Why not enjoy a glass for yourself?
Author: Shanel is a passionate writer who deeply loves the world of whisky. With an expert palate and a keen understanding of the nuances of this fine beverage, Shanel shares her knowledge and experiences through engaging and informative articles. Her favourite whisky is the Laphroaig 10-Year-Old.