Irish Cofffee

There are few things more satisfying on a cold winter evening than a hot brew of rich strong coffee with a dash of fine Irish whiskey. Although people have been adding whiskey to their coffees for a long time, the Irish coffee as we have come to know it has it’s origin in the 1940s. It is said that a chef by the name Joe Sheridan from a small county in Ireland served this brew to some american passengers one evening – adding the whiskey to help them keep warm – and, when asked if it was Brazilian said it was actually Irish coffee.

The trick is to get the cream to float.

Making the coffee is the simple part. The tricky bit is getting the cream to sit nicely atop, forming a layer which allows a perfect mixture of coffee and cream into your mouth when you sip it while also keeping your coffee warm. Yes, the cold cream keeps your coffee warm, I guess by preventing evaporation. I have more than once added whiskey to my cappuccino, but the two drinks aren’t comparable. The cream really is integral to the recipe and cannot be substituted with milk. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Rich Black Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Heavy Cream (regular will do)
  • Fine Irish Whiskey

Make the coffee first. Do not use instant coffee. If all you have is instant coffee, go to the store and get some real coffee. Most recipes call for brown sugar but regular sugar will do just fine. The recipe does however strictly specify non whipped cream. A lot of the time whipped cream is used and people call it Irish Coffee but don’t be fooled by this fib. When at a restaurant or pub, ask specifically for non whipped cream; and it’s always good practice to specify a brand of whiskey for your cocktail, otherwise the bartender is permitted to use whatever is closest to his fingertip – which is usually the cheapest bottle.

Pour the hot coffee in a glass (you don’t really need to pre-heat the glass, you’re not baking a cake) and add a dash of whiskey. A shot of Jameson’s will do nicely. Now you pour the cream. Although you mustn’t expect to be forgiven if you use whipped cream, it’s okay to give it a slight whisk. This might just prevent it from sinking into the coffee. Place a spoon on the surface of the coffee and gently pour the cream with an artist’s dexterity. It is to be drunk through the layer of cream.

If you follow these instructions properly, you will have successfully made a fine brew of Irish Coffee and trust me, you won’t be disappointed.


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