The Art of Preparing Irish Coffee

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat. ~Alex Levine

How to Make a Great Irish CoffeeThere is a particular art to preparing many adult beverages behind the bar, and Irish coffee is no exception. Prepared incorrectly, the drink does not look or taste as it should. Those who originally attempted to recreate this warming drink failed miserably and turned to the drink’s creator for assistance. Today, the technique used to create a perfect cup is well know, but it must be carefully adhered to for success to be ensured.

Though it may seem like a timeless tradition, Irish Coffee is a relatively recent addition to the world of beverages. It came onto the scene first in 1942. A flying airboat had left the Foynes airbase at Limerick, Ireland but had to come back due to inclement weather. When the flight returned, the passengers were warmed with a coffee drink devised by the chef at the base’s restaurant, Chef Joe Sheridan. He created a drink that combined lightly sweetened coffee with Irish whiskey. The real trick was the dollop of cream floating on top. When asked the type of coffee it was, the story goes that Sheridan stated that it was Irish coffee. Sheridan was later brought back to San Fransisco to replicate his drink at a restaurant there, after the American restauranteur failed to correctly make the beverage.

For the perfect cup, the glass the beverage is served in must be warm to avoid cooling the coffee too quickly. The cream must float on top of the coffee. This is where novices fail in their attempts to prepare the beverage. Like those in San Fransisco who originally tried to make it, the cream often sinks in the hot coffee. Following the right procedure and adding a little showmanship will delight guests with a perfectly prepared drink and entertainment.

To make this drink, preheat stem glasses with handles made specifically for serving this drink by pouring hot water into the glasses and letting it sit for 10 minutes. Pour out the hot water, dry the glass and drop in one or two brown sugar cubes. Pour in brewed coffee to fill the glass 2/3 of the way, and add a jigger of Irish whiskey. Stir the mixture to combine and wait for the coffee to stop moving. Any movement in the coffee will make the cream sink. Lightly whip whipping cream and gently lower it from the back of a spoon onto the still surface of the coffee and serve immediately.

Irish Coffee Picture by Rick at Flickr
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