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How to Make an Irish Coffee : A Traditional Irish Recipe

Updated on March 21, 2018

A True Irish Delight

A traditional Irish Coffee Recipe
A traditional Irish Coffee Recipe

The Origins of The Famous Irish Coffee

It's early 1940s and you're bound for America. An 18 hour journey across the vast Atlantic Ocean on a flying boat departing from Foynes in Southwest Ireland. Having spent a wonderful holiday on the emerald Isle embracing the warm friendly ways of the Irish people. The weather is frantic; high gusting winds and blue-black stormy waves. You make it to the terminal with all the other passengers. Shuttled by boat, you board your flight and take off into the angry grey skies.

Suddenly the Captain announces that the flight must turn back due to the worsening weather conditions. Thoughts of the landing and the shuttle boat from the terminal fill you with dread. You're already freezing and feeling sick due to the turbulence. Your stomach flips as the plane dives.

Finally arriving back on Irish soil you are welcomed by the friendly airport restaurant staff. They have prepared food for the passengers. Slipping into a seat, a cup of coffee is poured and handed to you.

Sipping your hot coffee. You delightedly ask. ''Is this Brazilian coffee?''

''No, that's an Irish coffee.'' Comes the reply: placing you at an historic event; the birth of the traditional Irish coffee. The gentleman in questioned, Joe Sheridan (chef). Thinking of the cold and miserable passengers, he added a little ole drop of Irish whiskey to each of the coffees to calm their nerves and heat them through. In no time at all, the whiskey did it's job warming everyone up from the inside out.

The Perfect Irish Coffee

I like this story about the American tourist being warmed by a little whiskey in his coffee, however I have a feeling that Joe Sheirdan was putting whiskey in coffee long before that night.

Bewleys first coffee house opened in Dublin, known as Grafton Street Café in 1927. It's believed that the art of distilling could have been brought to Ireland as early as the 6th century by missionaries who distilled mainly for medical reasons (of course they did); anyway the Irish where having whiskey in their tea before my Irish grandmother was born (92 years old next September) so on that note.

The Perfect Irish Coffee:

Ingredients:

  • Freshly brewed coffee from a coffee maker, it doesn't have to be a fancy machine but it does have to be brewed: see Fig 1) for a simple easy to use coffee maker
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 35 ml of Irish whiskey (Powers or Jameson)
  • Double cream (lightly whipped with a fork)
  • Glass Irish coffee cups, I have the ones as in Fig 2) they not only look good but they keep your coffee nice and hot too
  • Teaspoon
  • Boiling water, rested for a few minutes

Method:

  • First, place the spoon in your glass and fill halfway with the boiling water (the spoon takes the heat so the glass won't crack).
  • Swirl the water around the glass coffee cup and discard.
  • Pour the whiskey followed by the coffee into the glass, about an inch from the top.
  • Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
  • Pour a little boiling water over your spoon and place it into the cream.
  • Holding the spoon over your glass gently tilt the spoon and the cream will slip onto the surface of coffee.
  • Serve as is or sprinkle over a little coffee powder.

Serve an Irish coffee to end your dinner party on a dramatic note. You will certainly impress your guests, add afew chocolate truffles and you'll be the hostest with the mostest or really go to town and serve up a delicious slice of chocolate fudge cake :)


Fig 2) I have these glass coffee cups and not only are they pleasant on the eye but your hot coffee will stay hot

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake
Chocolate Fudge Cake | Source

Coffee Choices

I choose Bewley's coffee to make my Irish Coffee every time, simply because the brand is a firm favorite of mine and tastes great. Bewley's imported coffee beans after their success with tea from East India back in the early 1900's and are still going strong today with coffee houses in Dublin, the capital city of Ireland.

Of course, the coffee you decide to use is really about your own personal choice. Kenyan, Columbian and Costa Rica coffees are all delightful blends with a delicious aroma. Favorite blends make this special tipple even more individual, so go for it and make your signature Irish Coffee. But for the real deal, it always has to be Bewley's for me.

Barrels of Irish Whiskey
Barrels of Irish Whiskey

Whiskey Choices

The brand of whiskey you use to make your Irish coffee is of course down to personal taste and it's your choice that matters when it comes to your Irish coffee. However I have a few suggestions.

A Few Favorites:

  • Powers and Jameson are traditional used in making an Irish coffee due to their sweet almost honeyed flavor.
  • Bushmills has a slightly over powering and very distinctive taste for an Irish coffee although is still a popular choice.
  • Tullamore Dew is a lighter flavor, delivering a very delicate whiskey flavor.

Irish Whiskey Note:

Irish whiskeys are less smokey than their foreign counterparts. The Irish distilling process is in good hands producing some of the worlds most wonderfully smooth and finest whiskey brews. The old Gaelic word for whiskey 'Uisce Beatha' meaning 'Water Of Life' brings this hub to a thirsty finish. Enjoy :)

© 2010 Gabriel Wilson

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    • Gabriel Wilson profile imageAUTHOR

      Gabriel Wilson 

      6 years ago from Madeira, Portugal

      Hello vespawoolf. Thank you for your comment. I must admit to being partial to an Irish coffee myself. I've also tried baileys instead of whiskey; very, very good :)

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 

      6 years ago from Peru, South America

      I love the story about the discovery of Irish coffee! We sampled Irish coffee while staying in a little stone cottage near Ballymoney and have always wondered how to make it myself. Thank you for sharing! I look forward to your other articles on Ireland.

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