Irish Coffee: A Whisky-Based Cocktail for a Heady Treat

Aashna Ahuja, NDTV  |  Updated: March 09, 2018 13:45 IST

Irish Coffee: A Whisky-Based Cocktail for a Heady Treat
Irish Coffee: A bewitching combination of sweet, whisky-laced coffee through softly-whipped cream. Very simple, very indulgent, very delicious (and one of my guilty pleasures).

In the early 1940s, a man named Joseph Sheridan made the best decision anyone could make somewhere in the middle of a notoriously chilly Ireland. He was the first to combine Irish whisky with rich, black coffee. As legend has it, a flight from Shannon Airport was cancelled and Joseph, the local bartender there, decided to comfort the freezing passengers by serving something special. Oh, did he lift their spirits and how!

Although the drink was born in Ireland, it grew up in San Francisco. Enter: Stanton Delaplane. This American travel writer drank the airport speciality and fell in love instantly. After many attempts (and much persuasion) with bartenders back home to float the cream in the same way, the Irish Coffee cocktail was finally recreated and added to the menu of the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco in 1952. The rest, as they say, is history. 
How to Make The Perfect Irish Coffee

There are no secrets when it comes to the ingredients in Irish coffee. But contrary to popular belief, it’s not as simple as adding a shot of whisky to a cup of coffee. It is a thoughtfully constructed caffeinated drink that should be mixed with care. Renowned mixologist Dale DeGroff believes that the key to making a great Irish coffee is in the treatment of the cream. He particularly obsesses about hand-whisking the cream so that it has just enough stiffness to float beautifully atop the coffee and the booze.

The secret, I think, is to ensure the coffee is very hot (and very strong) and the cream very cold - and, most importantly, isn't whipped too thickly. Now whether you take sugar in your coffee or not (I don't), it is essential here, and not only for flavour. Without it, the cream doesn’t float the way it’s meant to, so don't be tempted to cut back. The dreamy drink, once assembled, must not – I repeat - must not be stirred; the hot liquid is to be drunk through the cold cream. Caveat: It will leave you with a killer mustache after each sip.

Here's a recipe for you to try at home -

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50 ml unsweetened, cold whipping cream
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
50 ml Irish whisky
1 cup freshly brewed coffee
Nutmeg to sprinkle (optional)


Comments1. Fill a tall glass (traditionally with a stem) with hot boiling water, leave to stand and then pour away the water. 
2. Whip the cream until the bubbles disappear and it has just started to thicken and form ribbons underneath the whisk. Put back in the refrigerator.
3. Dissolve the sugar in 2 tablespoons of hot water in a small pan and bring to a boil. Add some freshly brewed rich coffee and stir. Then remove from heat and stir in the whisky.
4. Pour the mixture of whisky, sugar and coffee into the bottom of the pre-heated glass. Take the cold cream out of the fridge, whisk once again, then pour it on over the back of a spoon (to prevent it from sinking) until you hit the rim of the glass. 
5. Grate a little nutmeg over the top and serve immediately.

The whisky, according to me, is the star attraction of this mighty fine cocktail. And as I type, I dream of this sweet, boozy elixir. "Cream as rich as an Irish brogue; coffee as strong as a friendly hand; sugar as sweet as the tongue of a rogue; and whiskey as smooth as the wit of the land"... That’s how Joseph Sheridan described his concoction, and rightly so.

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