The Pleasure of Drinking Some Warm Irish

29 Nov 2021

The pure delight of a true Irish Coffee

Story & photos by Brandon Williams

The air has gotten cooler, with a crisp bite carried on a fall breeze, and as the season changes, so do our drinking preferences. Light lagers and hoppy IPAs are swapped for robust Stouts and rich, dark Porters. The way we consume our spirits changes as well, no more Mai Tai’s and Pina Coladas. We can drink our booze hot now….and on the most blustery evening nothing can be appreciated quite like the warming effects of our favorite liquor combined with actual heat. It can comfort our spirit and our actual core.

Irish coffee was the brainchild of Joe Sheridan, a chef at Foynes Port near Limerick, Ireland, where the civilian airport had become one of the busiest in Europe during World War II, and later an airbase for transatlantic flights that often carried political or Hollywood figures. In the winter of 1943, a flight of civilians had to turn back, and, feeling empathy, Sheridan came up with the warm coffee concoction laced with whiskey, a tad of sugar and a bit of cream to offer the travel-worn passengers, and the rest is history. Google Joe Sheridan, and you will even see him serving an Irish to none other than Marilyn Monroe.

Many people may disagree with this, but as good as a Hot Toddy, Buttered Rum, or Mulled Cider can be, nothing can quite compare to a proper Irish Coffee. Now I’m not talking about what you get from your generic chain restaurants which is usually something akin to Irish Cream dumped into day old lukewarm pond water. I’m talking about deep-roasted, freshly ground coffee with a dash of sugar and a copious pour of Jameson all topped off with hand-whipped, unsweetened heavy cream. It’s absolutely beautiful in its simplicity and never gets old. Not too sweet, no flavors overpowering others, just a perfect harmonious balance of coffee, sugar, whiskey, and milk fat. It is absolutely greater than the sum of its parts.

Let’s dive right in and make the perfect Irish coffee.

Classic Irish Coffee

What you’ll need:

Irish Whiskey (just pick one)
Fresh Coffee (your preference here, I’m a medium/dark roast kinda guy)
Sugar (I prefer two cubes)
Heavy Cream (keep this as cold as possible until needed)
A mug (preferably clear glass, but there is no shame in drinking out of your #1 Dad mug in a pinch)
A mixing bowl and whisk or immersion blender

- First, toss two sugar cubes in your glass and top with
1 1/2 to 2 ounces of your preferred whiskey and set it aside for the moment. If you can’t wait, pour a shot for yourself before returning that bottle to the cupboard.

- Next, start brewing coffee via your favorite method. As your coffee steeps, pour about 4oz of heavy cream into a mixing bowl and the whisk vigorously for about a minute (an immersion blender can handle this task in about half the time). Our goal is to whip the cream enough to stiffen it up a bit but still be able to pour it. We want to increase the viscosity just enough for it to layer perfectly when gently poured atop our coffee.

- Pour your coffee over the whiskey and sugar and gently stir. Be sure to leave about an inch and a half at the top of
your mug.

- Finally, pour the cream over the back of an inverted spoon to help maintain a perfect separation between the hot beverage and the cold cream. The true secret of an Irish Coffee is to never stir the cream in. You must sip the coffee through the cream to get the proper effect.

You may be tempted to add things like creme de menthe or chocolate to your Irish Coffee. I strongly encourage trying it in its pure form first. Because like my grandfather used to say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Cheers!

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