An authentic Irish Coffee recipe made with only four basic ingredients: strong coffee, Irish whiskey, demerara sugar, and heavy cream. It’s the perfect after dinner drink!
I have a love-hate relationship with Irish Coffee.
In the past, any talk of it and I always had the same reminiscing memories.
Cups of weak coffee, harsh whiskey, flavorless whipped cream, and an underlying taste of a pre-made Irish cream liqueur.
That’s because every Irish coffee I’ve ever had has been made completely wrong!
History of the original alcoholic coffee
The history of Irish coffee starts at the Port of Foynes in Ireland around 1943. Chef Joe Sheridan, at the Port’s restaurant, created the stiff alcoholic coffee drink.
His task was to warm up American passengers whose flight had been delayed by bad weather, so he combined coffee and alcoholic to cheer people up!
When the Foynes closed in 1945, Chef Sheridan and his staff relocated to what is now known as the Shannon Airport and he took his recipe with him.
They continued serving the popular Irish coffee to airport passengers at the new location and the .
A few years later, an American travel journalist with the San Francisco Chronicle was passing through and had the locally famous coffee at the Shannon airport.
He liked it so much, he told his friend (Jack Koeppler, the owner of the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco) back in the states all about it.
Jack was equally impressed with the unusual coffee drink and wanted it on his menu at the café, but had a little difficulty recreating the Irish recipe.
After numerous failures, Jack decided to get serious and went straight the original source.
He hired Chef Sheridan, brought him to the US, and proceeded to properly introduce the delicious hot beverage to Americans. Well played, Jack.
How to make the best Irish coffee recipe
It was during a pilgrimage to an authentic Irish bar in Manhattan earlier this year, where I met a bartender who’s love for Irish coffee was as great as mine.
Since he looked as Irish as his brogue, I asked if he could show me how to make a true Irish coffee. Here’s his tips below!
Coffee making tips:
- It should be made in a glass, never a mug, and always preheat it first.
- It should only have four basic ingredients: coffee, Irish whiskey, demerara sugar and heavy cream.
- Demerara sugar is a wonderful unrefined and raw sugar with a molasses-like flavor. It’s available in most grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, just substitute regular brown sugar.
- The coffee must be fresh brewed and strong. I like to use a French press because I think it makes an ideal strong coffee for this recipe. It takes a little more time, but it’s worth it.
- Choose whatever Irish whiskey you prefer. Use what you like!
- The cream topping should always be made with fresh cream, never canned pre-made whipped cream. The cream is only lightly whipped, so it can be poured as a layer to completely cover the top of the coffee.
As a result of his impromptu instruction, I learned how to make the best Irish coffee at home.
An absolutely delicious beverage of the utmost creamy drinkability made with only four simple ingredients.
I’ll probably never order it out again!
Enjoy this Irish Coffee on St Patrick’s Day or as an after-dinner evening drink.
It’s perfect for brunch with this Cranberry Irish French Toast with Whiskey Butter too!
Irish Coffee Recipe
- 1 ounce Irish whiskey
- 2 teaspoons demerara sugar
- 1 cup strong black coffee
- 1/4 cup fresh cream, lighly whipped
- Heat a large glass by pouring hot water into it and swirl it around for about 30 seconds. Pour out the water, then add the Irish whiskey and sugar to the glass. Stir well to combine.
- Add the hot coffee to the glass and stir well again to fully melt the sugar. Slowly pour the cream onto an upside down spoon to float on top of the coffee. Enjoy immediately!
Recipe Notes & Tips:
- Use a glass, not a mug, and always preheat it first.
- Use only these four basic ingredients: coffee, Irish whiskey, demerara sugar and heavy cream.
- The coffee must be fresh brewed and strong.
- Use your favorite brand of Irish whiskey.
- The cream topping should always be made with fresh cream, never canned pre-made whipped cream.