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Here’s how to make the traditional Irish Coffee, the American version & a fast and easy at-home Irish Coffee recipe.
*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!
The History of Irish Coffee
In 1943 Brendan O’Regan opened a restaurant and coffee shop in the Foynes terminal building considered one of the best restaurants in Ireland at the time. One wintry night a Boeing 314 Clipper flying boat enroute to Botwood, Newfoundland had to return to the Foynes airport due to bad weather. Chef Joe 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 website.
Original Joe Sheridan Irish Coffee Recipe
- Place a spoon inside heat-proof glass or clear coffee mug and fill with hot water for 5 seconds.
- Remove water and put a teaspoon of brown sugar and a measure of Irish whiskey in the prewarmed glass.
- Fill the glass to within 1 cm of the brim with strong black coffee. Stir well to ensure all sugar melts.
- Holding the spoon upside down over the glass, slowly pour lightly whipped cream over the back of a spoon so it floats on top of the coffee.
Irish Coffee Comes to America
In 1952 Stanton Delaplane, a travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, enjoyed a cup of Irish coffee at the airport (now known as the Shannon Airport) and on his return home got together 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 and mastered the use of the bent 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 too.
Today they serve over 2,000 Irish cream coffees a day – close to double that on St Patricks 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 about 1 minute, then empty the glass.
- Fill glass 3/4 full with coffee. Drop in 2 cocktail sugar cubes and stir until dissolved.
- Add a jigger of whiskey. Stir.
- Hold an overturned spoon over the coffee and slowly pour lightly beaten (but still pourable) cream over it so it floats atop the beverage.
If you’d like to add a chocolate touch, stir 2 tablespoons of milk chocolate chips in with the sugar until dissolved.
Making Irish Coffee at Home
Now that many people have espresso machines at home, many make a quick Irish coffee using Americano espresso, Irish whiskey a couple teaspoons of sugar and adding a spurt of canned whipped cream on top.
This St Patricks Day, why not try to make the real deal at home? Need some extra encouragement? Here’s a video demonstration by an Irish girl and professional chef Diane Stopford.
[iframe src=”http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/2pnNoPx-Pt8?rel=0″ width=”100%” height=”480″]
World Irish Coffee Competition
Making a great Irish coffee isn’t as easy as pouring coffee, whiskey and cream into a mug. In fact, they have world competitions to see who can make the best Irish coffee. This year it’s in Nice, France.
If you’re curious to see a master at work, here’s a video of the finals in the 2012 World Coffee in Good Spirits Competition.
[iframe src=”http://new.livestream.com/accounts/738645/events/1610190/videos/5729238/player?autoPlay=false&height=360&mute=false&width=640″ width=”100%” height=”480″]
Where did you have your most favorite Irish Coffee? In Ireland? For St Patricks Day? At home? At an eatery or bar? Tell us about it in the comments.
See our other St Patricks Day Recipes:
- Looking for some St Patricks costumes or shirts? See our picks for St Patricks Day costumes & apparel.
- Looking for St Patricks Day family fun or party ideas? Read our St Patricks Day activties articles.
- Planning a St Patricks Day Party? See our St Patricks Day Printables.
- Want more ideas for your St Patricks Day? Check out our Pinterest Inspiration Board.
- Do you know someone who loves Irish coffee? Send them this article.
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Buena Vista Irish Coffee by Summer Park via Wikimedia Commons
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Subscribe today & don't miss a thing!
Once a week we'll tell you the upcoming daily celebrations & the articles you may have missed.