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Long renowned as the perfect after dinner drink, Irish Coffee really comes into its own during the month of March when everyone dons green for St. Patrick’s Day. Sadly, the drink served up as Irish Coffee at many bars is about as authentic as celebrating Ireland with green beer and plastic shamrocks. When you order one at many bars, you’ll get a pretty glass cup of flat coffee topped with canned whipped cream. That’s just not Irish Coffee. If you’re ready to experience a real Irish Coffee, here’s how to make one that will put you back on the ould sod, at least for as long as it takes to enjoy it.
Legend has it that the first Irish coffee was made at a small airport – which later became Shannon International Airport – in 1942. Chef Joseph Sheridan operated a small restaurant at the airport. One evening, the restaurant was filled with passengers from a flight that had been diverted, adding additional hours to their already long flight. In an effort to warm their spirits, Sheridan concocted a heady brew of strong black coffee, a shot of Irish whiskey and a lovely collar of thick, rich cream. One of the passengers, obviously an early coffee connoisseur, asked if it was Brazilian coffee, to which Sheridan replied, “No, it’s Irish coffee.”
While Irish Coffee was born in Ireland, it came to prominence on the far side of the ocean. Travel writer Stanton Delaplane is said to have introduced the after dinner beverage to the Buena Vista Café in 1952. Since then, the coffee-and-whiskey favorite has made its way all over the country, and the Buena Vista has served more than 32 million Irish coffees, at the rate of about 2,000 mugs per day.
Sheridan’s Original Recipe for Irish Coffee
Joseph Sheridan may have been an artist in the kitchen, but he had the soul of a poet. His original recipe for Irish Coffee is typically Irish – if not precisely helpful for someone who wants to duplicate his drink.
Cream as rich as an Irish brogue;
Coffee as strong as a friendly hand;
Sugar sweet as the tongue of a rogue;
And whiskey smooth as the wit of the land.
Needless to say, precise measurements and techniques would be a great start. Luckily, the Buena Vista has been generous in sharing their recipe for Irish coffee.
How to Make the Perfect Irish Coffee
Pour hot water into a stemmed glass to warm the glass.
Pour out the water and add sugar and hot coffee to the glass. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
Stir in the Irish whiskey.
Shake the heavy cream in a protein shaker with a blender ball to lightly whip it. This is one of the most important parts. The cream should be thick, but still pourable, about the texture of honey.
Pour the cream over the back of a teaspoon into the mug so that it floats on the surface of the coffee.
Lightly dust with cinnamon or nutmeg and serve.