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Ireland: Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee courtesy of Moore's Pub, Co. Wicklow

(Looking for the Irish Coffee Cake recipe? It's over here.)

Irish coffee was invented in 1943 by Joe Sheridan, the chef at the old flying-boat base at Foynes, County Clare, near the present site of Shannon Airport. Sheridan invented this drink as something warming and welcoming to give the tired passengers when they got off the warm plane into what was very likely to be cold, wet and windy weather.

Nowadays, Shannon Airport often tries to take the credit for the invention of the drink...but the cognoscenti know better. The only recognition Joe Sheridan seems to have received is in the naming after him of the Irish coffee liqueur, Sheridan's, and the fact that the 24-hour airside bar at Shannon (across from the famous Shannon Duty-Free, first duty-free shop in the world) has also been named "Sheridan's".

Many variants of this drink have evolved over many years, but this is Joe's original recipe, as reported by Irish food researcher and celebrity cook Biddy White Lennon.

The two most important things to remember when trying to reproduce the original: No whipped cream! And no stirring!

Joe Sheridan's Original Irish Coffee

  • 1 measure Irish whiskey
  • 1 measure strong black coffee
  • 2 teaspooons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh whipping cream or double cream

Heat the glass. Add the whiskey, add the sugar and the hot coffee.

Float the cream on top of the coffee. (To do this, pour into a spoon rested just on the surface of the coffee: let the cream flow into the bowl of the spoon and overflow onto the coffee. Lift the spoon as the cream builds up, so that a layer of cream builds up on top of the coffee.)

Do NOT try this in coffee without sugar in it: it's the presence of the sugar that allows the cream to float successfully.

Serve. The coffee is supposed to be drunk through the cool cream, not stirred in.



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