How To Prepare the Finest Irish Coffee

The Origin of Irish Coffee

 How the Perfect "Pick Me Up" Was Invented

By: Alicia Walters  Revised by: Mark Cambell   Last updated: April 3, 2024

Irish coffee is a drink that will make you feel like you're in a cozy pub in Dublin, even if you're actually in your boring apartment in Des Moines. It's a drink that will warm your soul, lift your spirits and give you a buzz. It's a drink that will make you forget about your problems, at least until the next morning. But how do you make this magical concoction? And where did it come from? And why should you care? In this article, we'll answer all these questions and more. We'll also show you how to use Bailey's Irish Cream, a liqueur that tastes like heaven but looks like something else. So, grab your favorite mug and let's get started!

The Origin of Irish Coffee

The story of Irish coffee goes back to the 1940s, when a chef named Joe Sheridan worked at the Foynes airbase near Limerick, Ireland. Foynes was one of the biggest civilian airports in Europe during World War II, and a stopover for transatlantic flights. One night, a flight had to return to Foynes due to bad weather, and Sheridan decided to whip up something special for the cold and weary passengers. He added some Irish whiskey and brown sugar to hot coffee and topped it with whipped cream. He served it in glass mugs and told the passengers that it was "Irish coffee". The drink was an instant hit and became a signature of the airport restaurant.

Later, in 1952, a travel writer named Stanton Delaplane brought Irish coffee to the United States after tasting it at Shannon Airport (the successor of Foynes). He convinced Jack Koeppler, a bartender at the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco, to recreate it. They had some trouble getting the cream to float on top of the coffee, so they traveled to Ireland to learn from Sheridan himself. They also tweaked the recipe by using granulated sugar instead of brown sugar, and adding it before the whiskey. The Buena Vista Cafe became famous for its Irish coffee and still serves it today.

So there you have it: Irish coffee was invented by an Irish chef for some American passengers who were stranded in Ireland because of some British weather. And then it was brought back to America by an American writer who was impressed by an Irish drink. And then it was perfected by an American bartender who learned from an Irish chef. It's a classic tale of cultural exchange and cooperation. Or something like that.

The Recipe for Irish Coffee

There are many variations of Irish coffee, but the basic recipe is simple and easy to follow. You'll need:

- 4 ounces of strong, hot coffee

- 1 1/2 ounces of Irish whiskey

- 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar

- 1 ounce of heavy cream, lightly whipped

To make Irish coffee, follow these steps:

1. Preheat your glass by filling it with hot water and then emptying it.

2. Pour the hot coffee into the glass, leaving some room at the top.

3. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.

4. Add the whiskey and stir again.

5. Float the whipped cream on top by slowly pouring it over the back of a spoon.

6. Do not stir after adding the cream. Drink the coffee through the cream.

That's it! You've just made yourself a cup of Irish coffee. Congratulations! You're now officially cooler than most people.

The Variations of Irish Coffee

You can customize your Irish coffee by using different types of coffee, whiskey, sweeteners and toppings. Here are some ideas:

- Use espresso or French press coffee for a stronger flavor.

- Use brown sugar, maple syrup or honey for a richer sweetness.

- Use bourbon or Scotch whisky for a different twist.

- Use whipped cream liqueur instead of heavy cream for a boozy kick.

- Sprinkle some nutmeg or cinnamon on top for some spice.

One of the most popular variations of Irish coffee is using Bailey's Irish Cream instead of heavy cream. Bailey's is a creamy liqueur made with Irish whiskey, cream, sugar and cocoa. It adds a smooth and sweet taste to your drink, as well as some extra alcohol content. To make Irish coffee with Bailey's, simply replace the heavy cream with Bailey's and pour it over the back of a spoon as usual. You can also use both heavy cream and Bailey's for a double layer of creaminess.

But be careful: Bailey's may look innocent, but it packs a punch. It may also cause some confusion when you try to explain what you're drinking to your friends or family.

"What are you having?"

"Irish coffee."

"With what?"


"So...Irish coffee with Irish cream?"


"So...double Irish?"


"'re drunk?"


The Tips and Tricks for Irish Coffee

To make your Irish coffee even better, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:

- Use freshly brewed coffee that is hot but not boiling.

- Use good quality Irish whiskey that is smooth and sweet.

- Use real heavy cream that is lightly whipped but still pourable.

- Use a heatproof glass or mug that can hold at least 8 ounces.

- Warm your glass before adding the ingredients to keep your drink hot longer.

- Stir well after adding the sugar and whiskey to dissolve them completely.

- Pour the cream slowly and gently over the back of a spoon to create a distinct layer.

- Do not stir after adding the cream to preserve the contrast between hot and cold, bitter and sweet.

And most importantly: enjoy your drink responsibly. Don't drink too much or too fast. Don't drive or operate heavy machinery after drinking. Don't mix with other drugs or medications. Don't drink on an empty stomach or when you're sick or depressed. Don't drink if you're pregnant or underage or allergic or intolerant or forbidden by your religion or doctor or conscience.

The Conclusion

Irish coffee is a wonderful drink that can warm you up, cheer you up and satisfy your taste buds. It has a rich history and a simple recipe that you can easily make at home. All you need is some hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar and cream. You can also experiment with different variations by using different types of coffee, whiskey, sweeteners and toppings. And if you want to make your drink even more indulgent, you can use Bailey's Irish Cream instead of or along with heavy cream.

Irish coffee is more than just a drink; it's an experience. So next time you're feeling cold or tired or festive, treat yourself to a cup of Irish coffee and enjoy! Sláinte! (That's cheers in Gaelic.)

And remember: if anyone asks you what you're drinking, just say "Irish coffee". And if they ask you what's in it, just say "coffee". And if they ask you what else is in it, just say "Irish". And if they ask you what that means, just say "you wouldn't understand". And if they ask you why not, just say "because you're not Irish". And if they say they are Irish, just say "prove it". And if they try to prove it, just say "sorry, I can't hear you over my awesome drink". And then walk away. Lol!