To make a fine Irish Coffee drink you will need piping hot coffee, sugar and Irish whiskey. Stir them together, combine in a toddy glass, and top it with thick cream that has not been whipped. That is the original recipe. You are supposed to sip the coffee beverage through the thick cream.
Of course many people enjoy their Irish Coffee with a topping of whipped cream, which is fine as well. Don’t let the connoisseurs try to tell you how to enjoy your coffee.
Fun Fact: In Irish the beverage is known as Caife Gaelach.
- International Bartenders Association Definition
- The Origins of the Irish Coffee
- Irish Coffee Cocktail Recipe
- Choosing the Glass
- Starting the Process
- Cream – The Essential Layer of the Irish Coffee
- How To Drink Your Irish Coffee Properly
- Common Mistakes
- Alcohol-Free Irish Coffee
- When Is A Good Time to Serve Irish Coffee
- Alternative Irish Coffee Recipe
- Caution Needed
- The Essential Espresso Coffee Guide
International Bartenders Association Definition
According to the International Bartenders Association (IBA), an Irish Coffee Cocktail is:
- 4 cl (2 parts) Irish whiskey (40 mL, 1.3 ounces)
- 8 cl (4 parts) hot coffee (80 mL, 2.6 ounces)
- 3 cl (1½ parts) fresh cream (30 mL, 1 ounce)
- 1 tsp brown sugar
It’s colloquially simply referred to as an “Irish Coffee”, dropping the “cocktail”.
The Origins of the Irish Coffee
Some say the first Irish coffee came about through the antics of one Joseph Sheridan who served as head chef at Foynes in County Limerick. Sheridan was originally from Castlederg in County Tyrone. The port at Foynes was the predecessor to the Shannon International Airport on the western part of Ireland.
As the story goes, the name and recipe for Irish coffee were created when some Americans got off a Pan Am flying boat in Foynes in the 1940s. It was a cold and dreary evening and the Sheridan put some whiskey in the coffee to provide the flying boat passengers with extra warmth, and they in turn asked if it was Brazilian coffee. Sheridan responded that it was “Irish coffee.”
In the 1950s Irish coffee was served at the Buena Vista cafe in San Francisco after being advocated by Stanton Delaplane. They worked to recreate the traditional Irish method of floating the cream atop the coffee and determined cream which had aged two days floated best. Delaplane went on to extol the virtues of the drink in his travel column and it gained a wider popularity.
There are variations on the Irish coffee theme such as the Cafe Irlandes (Irish Coffee) served in Spain with the whiskey layer on the bottom and the coffee in a separate layer in the middle and the cream on top. There is special equipment available to make Cafe Irlandes.
Irish Coffee Cocktail Recipe
This Irish Coffee is a long-time champ when it comes to alcoholic coffee recipes. Coffee, cream and sugar pair naturally, but adding the whiskey is a touch of magic. Discover the history behind this infamous drink and how to customize it to your tastes.
- 1 oz Whiskey irish
- 2 oz Coffee fresh brewed
- 1 oz Cream fresh
- 1 tsp Brown Sugar
How to Make
Warm up tall glass (preferably a toddy glass) using warm water
Add brown sugar (required for buoyancy)
Add the whiskey and blend
Top with cream, using a spoon to maintain separation while pouring
Use a "toddy" glass for an Irish Coffee.
Don't forget to use the sugar even if you don't usually add sugar to your coffee. In this case it is necessary as it provides the buoyancy for the cream to float atop the Irish coffee, this is the signature of the Irish coffee.
Either white sugar or brown sugar may be used depending upon your personal preference.
Then you must seek out the perfect whiskey and the perfect cream. Even the sugar can be a thing secured by a connoisseur to best fit the renowned Irish coffee beverage – some people prefer brown rather than white sugar.
Depending upon your personal tastes you may then vary the proportions ever so slightly to hone in on what is your own perfect Irish Coffee and perfect Irish Coffee recipe.
Choosing the Glass
The mug or glass you choose for you Irish Coffee is an important part of your own personal Irish coffee recipe because it adds the pomp and ceremony and tradition of the drink. Tall, narrower glass (as opposed to mugs) are preferred, due to the higher ratio of coffee to cream, giving you more coffee to sip before finishing off with the cream.
What is considered to be the classic glass for an Irish coffee is a six-ounce stemmed glass known as a “toddy”. Some people like to use an eight-ounce mug with a handle which is more practical but less classic.
Starting the Process
First warm up the glass – this is important not only to prevent premature cooling of the coffee, but also to prevent the glass from shattering due to thermal shock. To warm the glass up run it under some very hot water. This is one of the most important things about how to make Irish coffee because it allows the beverage to hold its layers properly and doesn’t draw the heat out of the ingredients. By the way don’t run fine glass under water that is too hot, just use warm water.
Next fill it about two-thirds full with piping hot coffee. When you fill the glass two-thirds full of coffee you may just want to use French Press coffee because it has all of the fine aromatic oils that don’t pass through a filter paper such as is used by an automatic coffee machine making a regular drip-brew coffee.
Next, add two teaspoons of sugar, or even three if its a larger glass.
Stir it in thoroughly so that it properly dissolves.
Now you are ready to add one ounce of whiskey (or more if it is a larger glass).
Finally, top of the drink with thick cream, using a spoon when pouring to prevent mixing.
Cream – The Essential Layer of the Irish Coffee
A proper Irish Coffee is encapsulated in the cream atop the drink. Practice this skill until you get it just right. You may even search out a higher quality cream.
As you pour the cream over the back of a spoon, suspended just above the top surface of the beverage, let it gently slide atop the coffee until it forms a layer about one-half inch thick.
Take your time with this step, pouring too fast can result in the layers mixing improperly – they should be distinct and separate.
How To Drink Your Irish Coffee Properly
Now as you consume the Irish coffee, if you do it right, you will actually be drinking the coffee through the layer of cream which will stay intact on top.
Some people prefer to thicken up the cream by whipping just very lightly with a whisk.
In England you can buy what is known as “double cream” that is thicker than America’s “heavy cream” and is sufficient for an Irish coffee recipe without the need for whisking.
Don’t use whipped cream and don’t use sweetened cream. If you do then it is not an Irish coffee, just a variation of one.
Okay, we will let you use whipped cream if you must, perhaps that is all you have on hand and it captures at least some of the essence of an Irish coffee if you get the rest of it right.
Though what is most important is that you learn from your mistakes and begin to seek out the proper ingredients for an Irish Coffee so next time you are prepared!
Alcohol-Free Irish Coffee
A mock Irish Coffee can be made using Irish Cream flavoring syrup in lieu of whiskey, recreating the infamous drink for those who are designated drivers or need to avoid alcohol. Companies such as Torani and Monin offer compelling tasting flavors that can be enjoyed at any time of day, with some people swearing it tastes identical.
Sugar-free variations also exist, sweetening the drink without adding sugars for those who want a paleo or sugar-free Irish Coffee.
When Is A Good Time to Serve Irish Coffee
Anytime you want to warm up, perhaps after being out in the snow on a ski adventure or snowboarding. Gathering around the fireplace is the perfect place to enjoy an Irish Coffee.
It’s also very nice with desserts, or just with some home made cookies or a nice fresh-baked loaf of Irish bread.
You can garnish the top of the drink if you would like, with some chocolate sauce, cinnamon powder or nutmeg powder.
Though these are not part of the traditional Irish coffee recipe, they’re simple ways to make the drink your own.
Some people even put a dash of Creme de Menthe on top, or even Bailey’s Irish Cream.
Remember that the true Irish tradition involves good times, laughter and merriment, so enjoy!
And so there is your Irish Coffee Recipe and tips on how to make the perfect Irish Coffee. Impress your friends, especially your Irish friends!
Alternative Irish Coffee Recipe
First pour the strong freshly-brewed black coffee into the mug.
Then slowly stir in sugar (one level teaspoon) and whiskey to taste.
Make sure the sugar is fully dissolved into the beverage. It’s the sugar that helps the cream float properly on top of the Irish coffee.
Next pour the thick cream very slowly over the back of a spoon first holding it just above the surface and then rising it up a bit very gradually. If done properly then the layer of cream will float gracefully on top of the Irish coffee.
However just a word of warning. Whenever mixing a stimulant like coffee with an intoxicant like alcohol just one drink is enough.
The caffeine will mask the effect of alcohol, temporarily. Caffeine is processed much quicker by the body than alcohol, which means that caffeine will wear off long before the alcohol does. This makes it easy to go a little overboard.
Now go out there and spread the world about the Irish Coffee recipe and all of the things you learned about how to make Irish Coffee.
The Essential Espresso Coffee Guide
Check out this information about coffee plants and coffee cherry, and full descriptions of all of the world’s top gourmet coffee beans including Organic Coffee, Fair Trade Coffee, Bird Friendly Coffee and Shade-Grown Coffee. Learn All About Coffee.
Espresso Machines and Coffee Brewing Equipment
You can technically make an Irish Coffee with any coffee or espresso. Read up on the different machines including: Coffee Makers (Automatic Drip Coffee Makers, Single Serve Coffee Makers, Pod Coffee Makers, Coffee Pods, Coffee K-Cups, T-Discs, and French Press, (also see Best Coffee Makers), and Espresso Machines (including Pod Espresso Machines) as well as Instant Coffee and Decaffeinated Coffee.
Learn how to discern all of the fine nuances of coffee flavors and qualities including body, aroma, acidity, bitterness, sweetness, and finish or aftertaste). Also provided is a full description of coffee cupping (professional coffee tasting), and as a bonus you get a compendium of coffee quotes and even a coffee quiz.
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