The original Irish coffee was invented in the 1940s by a chef named Joe Sheridan in Foynes, County Limerick. The drink was conceived for a bunch of Americans who were fresh off of a flying boat (yes, that’s a thing) one brutal winter evening. They asked Sheridan for some coffee, and he pulled a thoughtful, downright altruistic move by adding whiskey. When they remarked on what kind of coffee they were drinking (mistakenly identifying it as “Brazilian”), Sheridan told them it was “Irish coffee.” Thus, the cocktail was born.
The drink was then introduced to the United States by Stanton Delaplane, a travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Since then, different variations on the concept have proliferated across the globe. Here we present the classic recipe.
What You’ll Need:
6 oz. Irish Coffee Mug
4 oz Freshly Brewed Coffee
2 Cubes Sugar
1 ½ oz Good Irish Whiskey (We recommend Teeling or Tullamore Dew)
2-3 Tbsp Whipped Cream
Traditional Irish Coffee Serving Glass
Nowadays, there’s actually a serving glass called an “Irish Coffee Mug,” which most bars use for the brew. For the historical experience, though, we use the 6 oz San Francisco Irish Coffee Glass, made famous by the Chronicle for its long time use and association with the iconic Old Town area of San Fran.
- Pre-heat the Serving Glass
Pour some hot water into the glass for 10-15 seconds to pre-heat. Once the glass has warmed up, pour it out.
- Add Sugar Cubes and Fresh Coffee
Add two sugar cubes to the glass. For the extra mile in historical authenticity you can use brown sugar, but the cubes are easier to measure. Next, add 4 ounces of freshly brewed coffee until the glass is about 2/3 of the way full. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
Recommendation: Use a French Press to brew your coffee; it will create a nice, full-bodied cup that can really stand up to the whiskey. We also suggest using a light to medium roast.
- Add Irish Whiskey and Whipped Cream
Add 1 1/2 oz of your favorite Irish whiskey. Be sure to use real Irish whiskey, subject to the legal definition of the term by Irish law, and not just any old brown alcohol. Chris uses Teeling Irish Whiskey. From Dublin, it’s an authentic and exceptional whiskey, finished in rum casks, that blends beautifully with coffee. Once the whiskey is in, top the whole thing with (preferably homemade) whipped cream.