Not just a national method of making coffee like Turkish Coffee or Vietnamese Coffee, Irish Coffee is actually an alcoholic drink—a cocktail made with Irish whiskey, brown sugar, whipped heavy cream, and… oh yeah, coffee. So, why’s it just called Irish Coffee?
There are a few apocryphal stories out there claiming to be the origin of this amazing cocktail—here’s a quick retelling of the most believable/legit-seeming one that I’ve personally come across so far:
Irish Coffee was created during World War 2 by Joe Sheridan, who was a chef at an Irish airbase called Foynes Point. Foynes Point was an important refueling stop for longer trans-atlantic flights that usually carried political or Hollywood figures of the time.
In the winter, due to the local weather conditions, the passengers often ended up having to stay overnight, so the base built a restaurant to cater to the VIP crowd aboard the flights.
One such night in 1943, Chef Joe Sheridan felt sorry for a group of passengers who were delayed by the winter weather, and decided to make something really special for them to drink.
According to the legend, a silence came over everyone as they drank up.
"Hey, Buddy…” an American passenger said, "Is this Brazilian coffee?"
Joe replied, “No, that's Irish coffee."
And the name stuck for roughly eight decades.
How to Make It
1 cup of fresh brewed hot coffee
1 tbsp of brown sugar
1.5 oz (1 jigger) of Irish Whiskey (i.e. Redbreast, Jameson, etc.)
1 oz heavy cream (slightly whipped)
- Fill a mug with hot water to preheat it, then empty the mug.
- Pour freshly brewed hot coffee into the pre-warmed mug until it is about 3/4 full.
- Stir in brown sugar until it has completely dissolved.
- Add the Irish whiskey. (Make sure not to forget this step.)
- Top with whipped heavy cream by pouring it gently over the back of a spoon.
- Serve immediately while it’s still nice and hot.
- Out of respect for the Emerald Isle, real Irish Coffee should be made with real Irish Whiskey. Therefore, you should choose a true Irish whiskey in the middle or upper range. Just remember you’ll be mixing it in with some strong coffee, so no need to shell out for a 61 year aged reserve here.
- If you can find one, choose a sweet Irish whiskey—Kilbeggan, Clontarf, and Tullamore Dew are some brands said to have a slightly sweeter finish. A slight sweetness in the whiskey will counter the bitterness of the coffee nicely
This recipe works best with stronger coffees. Strength-wise and flavor-wise, it’s a perfect cocktail recipe to use Black Insomnia, either Dark Roast or Classic Roast. Click here for more coffee cocktail recipes.