National Irish Coffee Day: the PERFECT recipe to celebrate

Celebrate National Irish Coffee Day by making your own version of this classic Irish cocktail!

National Irish Coffee Day: the PERFECT recipe to celebrate.

With Guinness, Jameson, and a host of smaller independent brewers and distillers, Ireland has always been at the forefront of the alcoholic drinks industry.

One of its lesser celebrated exports, however, is the Irish coffee. Consisting of three core ingredients – and a couple of optional ones – Irish coffee is a simple yet delightful cocktail to warm you up during cold winter evenings.

To celebrate National Irish Coffee Day, we’re looking into the history of this Irish cocktail and sharing one of our favourite recipes that you can follow at home.

Irish coffee origins – where does the drink come from

A glass of Irish coffee.
Credit: Flickr/ HeyMoira

Just like any legend, stories abound about the origin of Irish coffee. The preeminent one, however, attributes the legendary drink to County Limerick chef and bartender, Joe Sheridan.

Sheridan was the head chef at Foynes Airbase, a regular stop for a layover between Europe and the United States, and legend has it that he developed the now-popular drink for the hoards of weary travellers that passed through the Limerick town.

One night, a particularly rough Atlantic storm forced a New York-bound plane back to Foynes, where passengers were met with coffees mixed with brown sugar, cream, and the all-important ingredient – Irish whiskey. Thus, the Irish coffee was born.

Stanton Delaplane, a travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, claims to have introduced the recipe to the US at large.

After sampling the cocktail in Ireland, Delaplane reportedly brought it back to California, where it became a mainstay of the menu at the Buena Vista café.

Variations – other versions of Irish coffee

Two people toasting with glasses full of coffee, whiskey, and cream.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool/ Luke Kwiatkowski

While many accept that Sheridan was the originator of the cocktail, it should be noted that variations predate his creation.

The French were enjoying a similar cocktail – a gloria – in the 19th century, as referenced in Honoré de Balzac’s Le Père Goriot and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.

Another variation – the Pharisäer – has also been served in the Nordfriesland region of Germany since the 1800s. The Pharisäer consists of black coffee, a double shot of rum, and whipped cream. This bears similarity to the Jamaican coffee cocktail.

Yet another popular variation on the cocktail is the Brazilian coffee, which comprises espresso, condensed milk, coffee liqueur, and the ubiquitous sugar cane spirit, cachaça.

Recipe – how to make Irish coffee

The recipe for the perfect Irish coffee calls for two tablespoons of double cream, 150 ml of fresh black coffee, 50 ml of Irish whiskey – dealer’s choice! – and a little bit of brown sugar to taste. The all-important method is as follows:

Step one: Lightly whip the double cream.

Step two: Pour the hot coffee into a glass, then add the whiskey and sugar. Stir gently and briefly to combine.

Step three: Pour the cream over the coffee, using the back of a spoon to keep it on top. Voilà!

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