Not everyone wants to down a pint of green beer just because its St Patrick’s Day. Some prefer the wonderful blend of coffee, cream and Irish whiskey. Here’s how to make Irish Coffee.
Three Irish Coffee Recipes
- Original Irish Coffee recipe from Ireland
- American Irish Coffee recipe from the Buena Vista Cafe in San San Francisco
- How to make Irish Coffee at home
*The sugar in the recipe is absolutely essential as this is one of the reasons the cream floats on top. Don’t go low-cal with this!
Traditional Irish Coffee
In 1943 Brendan O’Regan opened a restaurant and coffee shop in the Shannon Airport considered one of the best restaurants in Ireland at the time.
His chef was Joe Sheridan.
One wintry night a Boeing 314 Clipper flying boat enroute to New York had to return to the Foynes airport due to bad weather.
Sheridan added a little Irish whiskey to their coffee to help warm them up. One of the passengers who enjoyed it asked him if it was Brazilian coffee. “No – that’s Irish Coffee” he jokingly responded, and it’s been called that ever since.
For more of the story visit the Foynes Flying Boat Museum.
Here’s the Original Irish Coffee Recipe
- Fill a large stemmed coffee cup or Irish cream glass with boiling water to preheat it. Let it stand for few seconds, then empty the glass.
- Fill glass 3/4 full with coffee. Add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Add a jigger of whiskey. Stir.
- Holding the spoon upside down over the glass, slowly pour lightly whipped cream over the back of the spoon so it floats on top of the coffee. Do not stir.
Irish Coffee Comes to America
In 1952 Pulitzer Prize winner Stanton Delaplane, a travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, enjoyed a cup of Irish coffee at the airport and on his return home met with Jack Koeppler, then-owner of the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco, to recreate the drink.
They faced two problems: getting the taste just right and making the cream float on the top.
Delaplane travelled to the Shannon Airport again for more research and Koeppler contacted the San Francisco mayor, a dairy owner, for information.
The perfect tasting whiskey was selected (today they use Tullamore Dew.)
They decided to use a cream aged for 48 hours and frothed to a precise consistency. They mastered the use of the spoon to make the cream float delicately on the top. Instead of brown sugar, they decided to use 2 sugar cubes.
They discovered that using the right chalice was key to the flavor as well. Using a stemmed 6 ounce heat resistance glass was key to the whiskey-coffee balance. Preheating the glass is important.
Today they serve over 2,000 Irish cream coffees a day – close to double that on St Patrick’s Day.
On 11/10/2008 The Buena Vista earned the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest Irish Coffee. See photos of the event at their website.
Buena Vista Irish Coffee Recipe
- Fill a large coffee cup or Irish cream glass with boiling water to preheat it. Let it stand for a few seconds, then empty the glass.
- Put 2 sugar cubes in glass. Fill glass 3/4 full with coffee and stir until dissolved.
- Add a jigger of whiskey.
- Hold a spoon over the coffee and slowly pour slightly whipped cream (but still pourable) over it so it floats on the beverage.
- If you’d like to add a chocolate touch, stir 2 tablespoons of milk chocolate chips with the sugar until dissolved. Sprinkle chocolate dust on top of whipped cream.
How to Make Irish Coffee at Home
It’s easy to make at home, now that you know the steps.
- Make black coffee (espresso is too dark)
- add a couple teaspoons of white or brown sugar and stir
- add a jigger of Irish whiskey
- Top with a slightly whipped cream poured over a spoon
Just remember that its the sugar that makes the whipped cream float, so don’t leave it out.
Practice the spoon/cream method a couple of times then wow the crowd with your barista/mixologist skills. (Too hard? Use canned whip cream.)