Technically, Irish Coffee is a cocktail made with fresh hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar and heavy cream.
In reality, many people commonly refer to Irish coffee as any drink with a minimum of coffee and whiskey in it and some combination of sugar and/or cream. That includes just plain old black coffee with whiskey added in and nothing else.
If you’ve ever been out in the winter with a thermos of lukewarm coffee and a flask of whiskey of unknown origin, its Irish Coffee once mixed together. You just let the whiskey warm you up instead of the hot coffee, although its better when they work together.
This drink was apparently born out of pity for weary winter travelers after arriving aboard an airline flight and then ferried by boat to the terminal at Foynes, Co. Limerick, which predated Ireland’s Shannon International Airport, in the 1940s. Chef Joe Sheridan is said to have added whiskey to the coffee to warm them up and called the drink Irish coffee after some of the passengers asked if it was Brazilian coffee.
Classic Irish Coffee Recipe:
- 2 oz Irish whiskey
- 4-5 oz hot coffee
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- heavy cream
Add the whiskey and sugar to the bottom of a stemmed glass or mug. Fill with coffee to within 1 inch or so below the rim. Top with thick whipped cream. Table sugar or flavored liqueurs can be substituted for brown sugar as sweeteners.
Great drink for warming up a cold winter night and always a favorite for that infamous Irish themed party holiday known as St. Patrick’s Day. 4 out of 5 leprechauns recommend the Irish Coffee over a pickleback too.
If you need another excuse to celebrate with this classic cocktail, January 25th is National Irish Coffee Day. Doesn’t mean your home bar has to go green. Just enjoy.