According to The Guardian, “The Irish Coffee is relatively unusual among cocktails in having a clear and undisputed provenance: it was created in the winter of 1943 by Joe Sheridan, chef at Foynes Port in Limerick, for cold, weary passengers from a transatlantic flying boat forced to return to Ireland because of bad weather. The drink became an airport specialty and, after the war, was taken back to the States by a journalist from the San Francisco Chronicle, who persuaded his local bar, the Buena Vista Cafe, to recreate it for him. Today they claim to serve as many as 2,000 Irish coffees on busy days.”
It just so happens, the best Irish Coffee I’ve ever had is served at the Buena Vista Café (they have an excellent Ramos Fizz, too). Two photos below, courtesy SF Gate & Buena Vista Cafe.
After years of sitting at the bar in the Buena Vista watching the bartender make this drink, travel companion Kim has perfected the recipe and has some tips which I think really set this recipe apart from the crowd (and as an amateur bartender … well, I play one at home … I should know!):
1. Use really strong fresh-brewed hot coffee
2. Lightly whip very cold cream so that it can pour over the back of the spoon – don’t stir it in. For a perfect Irish Coffee, you want it to float on the top
3. Warm the whiskey in the microwave, so it doesn’t cool down the drink
4. Pre-heat the glasses with hot water
As far as which Irish whiskey to use, Kim prefers Jameson Irish Whiskey; the Buena Vista Café uses Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey. I don’t think you can go wrong with either.
For a St. Patrick’s Day celebration or when it is a drab, cold day … this will warm you to your toes.
24 oz. strong, fresh-brewed coffee
8 white sugar cubes
Good quality Irish whiskey (1.5 oz. per drink or one jigger)
1 c. very cold heavy cream
In a small bowl, whisk the cold heavy cream until slightly thickened. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Warm the whiskey in the microwave for about 10 seconds.
Fill the glasses with very hot water to pre-heat. Empty. Drop in two sugar cubes per glass. Pour hot coffee into the hot glasses until they are about three-quarters full. Stir until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved.
Stir in the whiskey. Top with whipped cream by pouring gently over the back of a spoon. Don’t stir in the whipped cream.
Enjoy while hot.
Makes 4 servings.