The year is 1943. In a popular restaurant at the Foynes Fying Boat Airbase, in County Limerick, Joe Sheridan, the head chef, is faced with a pack of disgruntled passengers. Their Atlantic flight was delayed due to stormy weather. Sheridan tops up their coffees with a healthy dose of whiskey… and brown sugar… and whipped cream to soothe their nerves. The world's first Irish coffee.
From there, the drink has travelled around the world and back. Before a wedding? Have an Irish coffee. About to set off in search of the summer sun? Start your holiday with an Irish coffee. Sad days and happy nights, grand events and cosy greetings: the Irish coffee is a perfect addition.
But capturing that St. Paddy's day coffee with a kick is harder than it looks. What whisky? How much sugar? And how do you get the cream to float on top?
Don't fret. Here at Presto, we've got all the answers. You'll know how to make Irish coffee in no time.
How to get the cream to float on an Irish coffee?
The secret to a floating cream is all in the pour. Use a lightly whipped cream, and pour slowly into the coffee – preferably over a warm spoon. Gradually the cream will settle on top, forming a rich and delicious layer.
Or – to cheat- get your whisk out and show the cream a little elbow grease. Once you've got some air in, you can add a dollop of cream onto the top. It's foolproof!
Oh, and if you're adding in sugar, we recommend two spoonfuls of brown sugar. You can use granulated. But the caramel flavour of brown sugar perfectly complements the rich coffee, cream and hit of whiskey. Remember to mix in the sugar before you add on the cream, however. And if you're adding in sugar, use unsweetened cream. The last thing you want is for your Irish coffee to taste more like a sweet shop than a heavenly cocktail.
What coffee is best for Irish coffee?
That's all a matter of taste. However, we'd recommend steering away from strong roasts and robusta beans. The bitter flavours will overpower the whiskey and cut through the cream. Instead, you want a mellow bean with a medium roast that packs in the taste of dark chocolate.
Try our House Espresso beans from the tropical forests of Brazil. These beans boast a fabulous flavour profile of almonds and dark chocolate. Alternatively, our Crema Espresso beans cater to those who prefer a deeper roast, which still won't overpower the whiskey. Irish coffee is a balancing act.
What is the best whiskey for Irish coffee?
Put away your scotch. Pack up your bourbon. An Irish coffee requires Irish whiskey – with an 'e'. Pick a mild whiskey with a sweet finish. If you know a particular brewery, you're a fan of, give it a try. But you can't go far wrong with Jameson. It's sweet with a slight spicy kick. Tullamore Dew is also a fantastic whiskey with a luxurious and well-balanced flavour. Pour in 40 mL of whiskey into the coffee. Then, give it a good stir alongside the sugar.
If you're feeling adventurous, opt for a cream liquor like Baileys Irish Cream. It also comes in a ton of flavours from chocolate cherry, vanilla, and caramel. So, you can tailor your Irish coffee to your taste.
Can Irish coffee get you drunk?
Of course… but isn't that the point. But you don't drink an Irish coffee to get 'smashed'. Rather, it's there to perk you up, provide a bit of Dutch courage, or add a kick to your step. As my grandma would say, 'drink this, it'll warm the cockles of your heart' – I never did work out what she meant.
Like any cocktail, the potency is all down to how much whiskey you pour. If you're feeling generous, add a little more. Or, if you're merely enjoying a fun afternoon treat, veer on the slimmer side. Remember, you can't take it out once you've poured it.
The Greatest Irish Coffee Recipe in the World!
Before we begin, let's start with a top tip: preheat your mug. Boil up the kettle and fill it up. Then, let it warm through whilst you start brewing your coffee.
- 130 mL of coffee (about ¾ of your cup)
- 40 mL of Irish Whiskey (the good stuff!)
- 2 tsp Demerara sugar
- A big dollop of heavy whipped cream (Look for soft peaks)
What to do:
- Start by preheating your mug. Then, brew up your coffee. Fill the mug about ¾ full with coffee.
- Stir in the demerara sugar, ensuring it all dissolves completely into the coffee.
- Add the Irish whiskey. Stick to 40 mL for a standard strength. Depending on how jolly you feel, go plus or minus 10 mL.
- Finally, top with a healthy dollop of cream. Try not to break the coffee's surface as you place it on or pour.
- Drink and enjoy!
There are also a few variations you can try. Here are our favourites:
- Irish Cream Coffee: The old half-and-half – pour in half Irish whiskey and half Bailey's. Then, top with a Maraschino cherry. (Drink too many of these, and you'll be nodding off before tea time.)
- Bailey's Irish Coffee: If you love a creamy hot drink, skip the whiskey and go all-in on Bailey's. As an after-dinner beverage, they don't come any richer.
Buena Vista Irish Coffee: Two sugar cubes. Lightly whipped cream poured over the back of a spoon. Trust us – this one's something special.
And there you go. The best Irish coffee, this side of Dublin. Just add a roaring fire, friends and family and plenty of craic!