It’s Irish Coffee Day!

Photo by Susan Whitney.

Irish Coffee


1.5 oz. Bushmills Irish Whiskey
.75 oz. hot simple syrup
5-7 oz. freshly brewed coffee
Heavy cream, lightly whipped

Pour Bushmills and simple syrup in an 8-10 oz., heat proof or stemmed glass. Fill with coffee to within a centimeter of the top of the glass, then gently top with cream and serve.

Guess what! It’s National Irish Coffee Day! Now, this is a holiday I can get firmly behind. In honor of this fine cold-weather, cocktail, I’m re-posting my Irish Coffee recipe. Since I made my first post, an Irish friend told me the drink was invented in 1952 in San Francisco at the Buena Vista Cafe, which still serves an average of 2,000 (!!!) Irish Coffees a day. The National Irish Coffee website says it was invented in Ireland by James Sheridan at the Shannon International Airport and that Sheridan recited his recipe as, “Cream as rich as an Irish brogue; coffee as strong as a friendly hand; sugar sweet as the tongue of a rogue; and whiskey smooth as the wit of the land.” Imprecise, sure, but undeniably lyrical.

I was taught how to make Irish Coffees while bartending at Molly’s at the Market in New Orleans’ French Quarter by iconic bar owner Jim Monaghan (1938-2001).  It was simple and perfect and served, rather unusually, I thought, in a stemmed white wine glass. There was an old shake mixer at the end of the bar, which occasionally administered a mild electric shock, and a boston shaker half-filled with heavy whipping cream. He taught me to whip the cream just enough to thicken it a bit and not to mix the cream into the coffee. The cream should cool and flavor the coffee as it passes through it, he said, “and, don’t put any of that green shit on it,” referring to the hackneyed practice of garnishing it with a splash of green crème de menthe to signify its Irishness.

Photo by Susan Whitney.

Starting my night at Molly’s with a couple of Irish Coffees usually meant I’d be out until 5 am. These days, the ingredients are staple items for blizzard stockpiling and chilly days.

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