The Irish Coffee is a whiskey and coffee-based drink that has been a staple on cocktail menus since the 1950s.
Ever need a drink that screams “wake me up” and “get me sloshed?” Well, then the Irish Coffee may be the cocktail of your dreams. (Especially if you dream about mixed drinks.)
Who Invented the Irish Coffee?
The Irish Coffee was invented in 1943 by chef Joe Sheridan at the Foynes airport in County Limerick, Ireland.
As the story goes, a flight left Foynes for New York late one winter night. But, after battling bad weather for several hours, the pilot returned to the airport to wait out the conditions.
Sheridan and other restaurant staff returned and Sheridan decided to whip up something warm and soothing for the exhausted passengers, and poured some of the good Irish whiskey in their coffee.
According to the Flying Boat Museum, “one passenger approached the chef and thanked him for the wonderful coffee, asking if he used Brazilian coffee. Joe jokingly answered, “No, it was Irish coffee!'”
A few years later, the legend of Joe’s spiked Joe made its way to San Francisco to the ears of Jack Koeppler, owner of the Buena Vista Hotel. They kept trying to reproduce it, but couldn’t ever get the cream quite right.
Determined to recreate the drink for his customers, Koeppler tracked down Sheridan and offered him a position at the hotel. The chef shared his recipe in rhyme and then took the job, because poems make terrible recipes.
Cream as rich as an Irish brogue
Coffee as strong as a friendly hand
Sugar as sweet as the tongue of a rogue
Whiskey as smooth as the wit of the land
Irish Coffee Ingredients:
- 1 to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 4 ounces hot coffee
- 1½ ounces Irish whiskey
- 1 ounce heavy cream, lightly whipped
How to Make an Irish Coffee
1. Add the Irish whiskey.
2. Pour in coffee.
3. Stir in the sugar until it’s dissolved.
4. Slowly pour the whipped cream over the back of a spoon to create a float on top.
Some Irish Coffee Variations
There are some easy options to change up your Irish Coffee. Here are a few simple variations:
- Use decaf if you want the fun without the caffeine buzz.
- Serve it on ice or use cold brew coffee to let out your inner basic.
- Sprinkle cinnamon or cocoa powder on top.
- Make it alcohol-free by omitting the whiskey. You may have heard of this last crazy idea before. Those of us in the food world like to call it “a cup of coffee.”
How Strong Is It?
Using a typical whiskey as the gauge, the Irish Coffee should come out to roughly 9% ABV (18 proof). It will definitely keep you awake.
Irish CoffeePrint Recipe
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 4 oz. hot coffee
- 1½ oz. Irish whiskey
- 1 oz. heavy cream (lightly whipped)
- Add Irish whiskey to cup.
- Pour in hot coffee.
- Stir in sugar until dissolved.
- Pour heavy cream over the back of a spoon to create a float.
Photos by Angela Persicke of Cooking with Wine.
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