With autumn upon us, and the temperatures beginning to dip, St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to enjoy an Irish Coffee.
We’re going to let you in on our carefully honed recipe, whilst supplying the essential history of this invigorating cocktail, so you can impress your friends as you mix up a few of these beauties and enjoy the craic.
The Irish Coffee – History and Myth
Doubtless one of the world’s most well known and beloved cocktails, the Irish Coffee also has a fascinating history.
The Irish Coffee is far from the first cocktail to add a little kick to your hot cup of Java. Similar cocktails were being served in Austrian coffee houses in the 1800’s, complete with the famous whipped cream topping.
In France, these cocktails were known as glorias and were even mentioned in the works of celebrated French writers Gustave Flaubert and Honoré de Balzac.
It is fair to say, however, that the Irish Coffee is the most enduring, popular and admired of coffee cocktails (though the Espresso Martini, particularly cherished on these shores, runs it a close second).
There are rivalling accounts of how the drink was first created. The story we like best says that Joe Sheridan is the man behind the Irish Coffee. Sheridan worked as the head chef at the restaurant located at Ireland’s Foynes air-base during the 1940s.
At the time, long haul flights often had to stop to refuel, and Foynes was well placed between America and Europe, and in neutral territory during World War Two.
Legend has it that one blustery and cold evening in 1942, a plane full of American dignitaries was forced to return to Foynes by bad weather. Feeling sympathy for the disgruntled, cold and delayed passengers, Sheridan created something to warm their cockles and sooth their tempers. He quickly whipped up a little cream, till it was airy but still runny, and combined whiskey with hot, sweet coffee – serving the finished drink in a stemmed glass with the cream floated atop.
The story goes, a hushed silence fell across the passengers as they enjoyed their innovative beverages. One traveller inquired if this was “Brazilian Coffee?” to which Sheridan answered: “No, that’s Irish Coffee” – and the rest is history!
The drink continued to be served after the war at the newly opened Shannon Airport, Foynes’ successor. It was here that the aptly named Stan Delaplane encountered the Irish Coffee, and brought it back to his hometown of San Francisco, introducing it to the owner of the Buena Vista Café. The cocktail continues to be served at the Buena Vista, who claim to have poured more than 30 million Irish Coffees. They later hired Sheridan to perfect their recipe!
Coffee on Cue
Melbourne’s café culture is the envy of the world, so it makes sense that we used beans from Melbourne’s very own Coffee on Cue importers. We believe their Elevate blend, a combination of Peruvian and Colombian beans, to be the ideal option. Elevate’s rich flavours of chocolate, toffee and plum perfectly match the complexity and power of Irish whiskey.
Whisky Loot’s Irish Coffee Recipe
These days, there are many competing recipes, and we’ve tried quite a few in our time. One of the best comes from New York’s The Dead Rabbit – probably the world’s greatest Irish bar outside of the Emerald Isle, and a consistent challenger in “World’s Best Cocktail Bar” shortlists. It is their recipe that has inspired our own.
You Will Need:
- - 45 ml Good Quality Irish Whiskey (we recommend Dublin Liberties 10 Year Old Copper Alley Single Malt).
- - 10ml Demerara Syrup (Make a two-to-one syrup ratio using 250 grams of Demerara or raw sugar, and half a cup of water. Slowly dissolve the sugar over a low heat until you have a viscous syrup. The syrup keeps for a few weeks in the fridge.)
- - About 120ml of hot, freshly brewed Elevate blend coffee. We love espresso in Australia, but for this drink it’s best to use French Press or Filter-style coffee.
- - Whipping cream (dollop or thickened cream won’t work!)
- - Whole nutmeg (optional)
- 1. Warm your stemmed glass or coffee mug with hot water – this will lengthen and enhance your enjoyment of the cocktail!
- 2. Prepare your cream. Whip the cream in a cold bowl until it is a little airy and forming ropes. You’re not looking for Pavlova style stiff peaks here – it needs to be a bit runny. If you have a cocktail or protein shaker, you can use this to whip your cream. Simply give it a shake for a few moments. Once you’re happy with it, put the cream in the fridge.
- 3. Combine the syrup, hot coffee and whiskey in your warmed glass or mug. Be sure to mix the syrup through thoroughly, as this will help the cream float.
- 4. Using the back of the spoon, slowly float the cream over the top of the cocktail until you have about 2cm, or an inch.
- 5. Drink!
Optional Garnish: a little freshly grated nutmeg.
Often imitated or bastardised, we believe this recipe, which runs pretty close to the original, creates the perfect Irish Coffee!
Happy St. Paddy’s Day! If you’re still in the mood for some Irish whiskey – check out our limited edition St. Patrick’s Day Tasting Box here.