Classic Irish Coffee is a wonderful way to warm up on a cold evening. The combination of coffee, cream, and Irish whiskey can’t be matched.
The making of the Classic Irish Coffee
Well before espressos, lattes, cappuccinos, and frappuccinos, there was Irish coffee, which is still one of the world’s most popular drinks. How did all this come about? The first Irish coffee was invented at the flying boat terminal in Foynes, thirty-fives miles from Shannon in Ireland, by a bartender named Joe Sheridan. In 1943, a flying boat headed to New York had to turn back because of bad weather and Joe was asked to prepare hot food and drinks for the freezing passengers. He put a good dose of Irish whiskey into their coffees and topped it off with cream. I’m sure the passengers were well and truly warmed!
The Buena Vista Café
In 1952, Joe moved to San Francisco to work at the Buena Vista Café. There he met Stanton Delaplane, the journalist who had made his drink world famous. After sampling an Irish coffee at Foynes, Delaplane had flown home and worked out the proper proportions of ingredients. Practically overnight, a quiet neighborhood bar was turned into the most prosperous saloon in the city, all thanks to Irish coffee. Today the Buena Vista serves up to 2,000 Irish coffees a day. You can read more about the history of Irish coffee.
Why You Need an Irish Coffee Mug
The Irish coffee mug is traditionally used for serving Irish Coffees. It’s made of clear glass and features a squat stem and base to elevate the drink off the table or bar counter. Some versions come with a handle, while others (like those found at the Buena Vista) look more like stoutish wine glasses. The clearness of the glass shows off the beautiful layering of coffee and cream. If you want to brew up an authentic Irish coffee, you’re going to need a proper Irish coffee mug.
Want Irish coffee in the summer? Learn how to make Irish coffee ice pops – strictly for adults – don’t let your kids get their hands on them!
Want more hot coffee recipes for the coming colder weather? (Warning – non-alcoholic!)
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Classic Irish Coffee
- 4 ounces hot brewed coffee
- 1 ounce Irish whiskey
- 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- Preheat your Irish coffee mug by filling it with warm water and letting it warm up the glass. Pour out warm water before adding coffee.
- Pour brewed coffee into a warmed mug.
- Add Irish whiskey and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Use a whisk to slightly whip the heavy cream until it is bubbly and still pourable.
- Gently pour the cream over the back of the spoon on top of the coffee.
- If desired, you can whip the heavy cream until it is firm and dollop it onto the coffee.