Irish Coffee: The Pride of Shannon
Propping your elbows on a well-worn bar at an Irish pub and sipping a glass mug of Irish coffee to the strains of the Chieftains warbling from the juke box is a pretty pleasant way to pass an evening, we’ll give you that. The classic combination of hot black coffee, a shot of Irish whiskey, brown sugar, and frothy whipped cream on top is a soothing, warming libation best enjoyed in the company of good mates.
But those good mates can be friends at home, and the Irish coffee a simple way to toast St. Patrick’s Day, or any day when the spirit moves you. So get the fixings, spin the Celtic platters, and re-create pub night in your own kitchen.
This Irish Coffee recipe couldn’t be easier. Simply warm your glasses (rinse them with piping hot water), pour in your hot coffee, and stir in a tablespoon of brown sugar (per glass) until it’s dissolved. Stir in a jigger of Irish whiskey, and then top with lightly whipped cream (just let it sit on top, don’t blend the whipped cream in).
We were wondering about the origins of the Irish coffee, and found it’s a two-pronged affair. Seems that in the late 1940s, a bar man named Joe Sheridan, whose lair was the bar at Dublin’s Shannon Airport, invented the drink for travelers who needed a good, warm pick-me-up before and after their flights. He dubbed it Gaelic coffee.
Then, Stan Delaplane, a newspaperman from California, helped popularize it in the U.S. And in a 1955 column, Delaplane asked Joe Sheridan about his brew:
“I asked Mr. Sheridan if he had a preference in Irish whisky for the makings. ‘In the old days I used John Powers or John Jameson’s. It was served in the best hotels in Ireland and was drunk by the elite of Ireland. Now in those days, William of Tullamore was a small concern and was not used by the high-class people. The O’Regans would never dream of it. But now I see Tullamore Dew has gone all out and captured the export trade in many places.’…I asked Mr. Sheridan how much sugar he put in the coffee-and-whisky. ‘Two lumps, cocktail size…When I made it for myself for the hangover, I drank it black.’ —Stan Delaplane’s Postcard: When Irish Eyes,” Bakersfield Californian, March 17, 1955