Whatever happened to Irish Coffee?

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How many people still drink this, and how do you make it?

Today, the buzz around coffee is all about carefully prepared Espresso, favourite pods and capsules, or trendy coffee shops. But whatever happened to Irish Coffee?

Its origins

Irish Coffee was first appeared in the 1940s, by a Joe Sheridan at Shannon Airport. When a group of cold Americans arrived (on a flying boat!), Joe served them coffee with Irish whiskey added and when asked what it was, he said is was Irish Coffee. We owe thanks to Joe.

Is it a 70s thing?

Like avocados when they first ‘arrived’ in the UK, Irish coffee was popular, but it doesn’t seem to have retained the popularity of the fruit. I’m not sure it was ever regularly drunk in the home by many folk, but it was popular when dining out; especially as an after-dinner speciality.

Was it ever consistent?

I’ve drank a number (OK, too many) of Irish Coffees, and they varied venue to venue and were never really consistent. That’s not surprising given that each restaurant used different coffee and other ingredients. Some were good, others not. Actually, mainly not.

What’s the recipe?

I would welcome our valued readers submitting their favourite recipes and I would also be happy to list cafes or restaurants that claim to specialise on Irish coffee. But until I am inundated with ideas, this is my favoured method; it’s pretty simple.

First, make a Lungo (with a double-shot/14g of grind) – up to about 6oz. Stir in one teaspoon of sugar (this can be white or brown), and add one shot of Irish whiskey.

Then take a heavy cream, and pour it onto the top of the coffee, but in a specific way – by holding an inverted spoon just above the coffee and slowly introducing the cream over the spoon – with the coffee still rotating from a stir. The idea is that the cream stays afloat and you drink the coffee through the cream. The heat of the coffee is in contrast to the cold cream – and it’d delightful.

There are a couple of points to note

  • I don’t like sugar in coffee so why do I add it to this drink?. Simply, without the sugar the cream is more likely to sink.
  • I don’t mind white sugar, but some prefer brown. I guess you decide your own preference. Some prefer to make a syrup with 50/50 water and sugar.
  • Some other recipes recommend whipped cream, but I think plain cream is fine, although whipped cream might be more likely to float as it contains more air. I just don’t want to get cream on my nose.
  • Of course, Irish whiskey should be used.
  • I recently reviewed some Coffee Bags made in the UK by a UK company. These were very good coffees, and I suspect they will make good Irish coffee. I think restaurants would be interested in those bags. See the review here

Drinking vessels

Yes, of course, you can drink this out of whatever receptacle you want. But for me, it seems to taste better from a latte glass, and you can also enjoy seeing the separate layers of coffee and cream.

If you don’t have a latte glass, how about this one from Homebase. At the time of writing, I noted it was ½ price at £1.99. Or, these Heart of House coffee time latte glasses hold just over 9oz, which seems ideal for the above recipe.


Irish coffee is maybe just one of those things I hark back to. But, it is a nice drink and I would say that if you haven’t tried one, then perhaps see if it’s on the menu next time you dine out. Drink responsibly and of course don’t drive with this in your system. 🙂

You are free to add comments, so that we can share tips and recipes.

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