The classic, and iconic, Irish Coffee.

The temperature is dropping, and colder months are incoming. We naturally turn towards a hotter drink to keep us warm. But what if you want a little tipple too? Perhaps the answer is to opt for a classic Irish Coffee.  

This iconic drink is much loved and often enjoyed after dinner.  

And while I am sure that many of you have enjoyed one or two of them over the years, do you know when and why it was created? Well, you are about to find out!  

The Irish Coffee was created in Ireland in 1943. In the early 1940’s the West Coast of Ireland was often a stop off point for travellers between Europe, Canada and the United States. 

In Foynes, Limerick there was an airbase that was often used for transatlantic flights to stop and refuel, and often due to weather travellers would need to stay for the night. These flights often carried political figures or high-profile celebrities of the day, so the airbase created a restaurant to cater to these dignified passengers.  

One stormy night in the winter of 1943, a flight bound for New York had to return to the airbase and the Head Chef at the restaurant, Joe Sheridan hurriedly created a drink to warm the weary travellers. He mixed sugar, coffee, whiskey and carefully added cream on top. The legend goes that after tasting the drink one delighted traveller asked “Is this Brazilian Coffee?” and Joe replied “No, that’s Irish Coffee!” and that is how the drink was named.  

(Joe Sheridan, below)

The coffee not only tasted delicious but looked it too. The coffee was served in a glass, not a ceramic mug and this was so the contrast between the dark coffee and white cream can be admired, and it was also more sophisticated for the famous guests. 

(Joe Sheridan serving Marilyn Monroe & Arthur Miller, below) 

Joe continued to serve his Irish Coffee to the guests, and one day in 1952 one of those guests was writer Stanton Delaplane. So enamoured was he with the drink he returned to the US and told his friend, and owner of the famous Buena Vista, San Francisco, Jack Koeppler about it and tried to get him to recreate it. But they struggled with getting the cream to not sink. Apparently, Jack Koeppler travelled to Foynes himself to meet Joe Sheridan and learn the secret to correctly make an Irish Coffee...and offered him a job! Joe Sheridan decided to take him up on the offer an emigrated to San Francisco.   

Since then, the drink has become beloved worldwide, but it is said that the Buena Vista Hotel continue to serve thousands of Irish Coffees daily.  

Foynes airbase is now a Flying Boat and Maritime Museum and they have a dedicated Irish Coffee Lounge, if you are ever going to indulge in an Irish Coffee it must be there.  

 

As the Irish Coffee gained popularity, many different versions of it have emerged across the globe with people substituting whiskey for brandy or baileys amongst others.  

To recreate the classic, here Foynes recipe below:  

Step One: Preheat your Foynes Irish coffee glass by filling it with boiling water for 5 seconds, then pour the water out.  

Step Two: Add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and a good measure of Irish whiskey into the warmed glass.  

Step Three: Fill the glass to within 1 cm of the brim with hot, strong black coffee. Stir well to dissolve all the brown sugar.  

Step Four: Carefully pour lightly whipped cream over the back of a spoon so that it floats on top of the coffee.  

Step Five: Do not stir after adding the cream; optimal flavor comes from drinking the coffee and Irish whiskey through the cream. 

Do you enjoy an Irish Coffee? As I finish writing this blog i think i quite fancy one!

  • Hugh Parry says...

    Just back from two weeks in Ireland (delightfully computerless) to find your blog. It rained for a while on every single day – and an Irish coffee every day helped to make this no real problem at all.

    On Nov 26, 2022

  • Robert Wilson says...

    Great blog Marisa!
    You’ll never be able to get away with not writing them now!

    Best wishes.

    On Oct 21, 2022

  • Lynda Sharpe says...

    Well I’m Irish and have lived in Ireland all my life and I didn’t know that story !!! Thank you so much for enlightening me. Now I can tell everyone here about Foynes and Joe Sheridan and make some Irish coffees too. 🤪

    On Oct 21, 2022

  • Lorna McEwan-Smith says...

    Great read – I knew about the Buena Vista part of the story and can say they may fabulous ones!! I really fancy one just now – thanks for sharing x

    On Oct 21, 2022

  • ani Brown says...

    for us teetotalers would heating the whiskey to burn off alcohol work?

    On Oct 21, 2022

  • Chris Ruddick says...

    I don’t partake of alcohol (boo, I hear!) but a great article.
    Love the Guinness-effect.
    Thanks

    On Oct 20, 2022

  • Graham Benson says...

    I do and I’m about to have one right now…on a cold day after a good lunch and before putting on your overcoat and hat this is the drink to carry you on your way…

    On Oct 20, 2022

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