The Original Irish Coffee Recipe
and its History

You may already know the origin of the Irish coffee recipe, but it's worth repeating.

Back between 1939 and 1945 many Americans flew to Ireland in a flying boat. The plane landed at Foynes, Co. Limerick after an 18 hour flight. The passengers were than shuttled by boat to the terminal. On cold damp days the passengers were somewhat chilled after the ride especially in the winter months. They really appreciated a cup of hot coffee or tea upon arrival to the terminal.

The Irish have long taken a little whiskey in their tea. This gave the new chef at the restaurant Joseph Sheridan an idea. He thought he would treat the newly arrived damp miserable Americans to a little Irish hospitality with an American twist. He knew of their taste for coffee, so he added the whiskey to their coffee instead of the Irish way of adding it to tea. One of the pleasantly surprised passengers asked "Is this Brazilian coffee?", "No" was Joe's reply "That's Irish coffee." So in 1942 the Irish coffee recipe was born. It is now enjoyed all over the world.

The seaplane terminal at Foynes has since closed. The airport is now based at Shannon. There is a plaque at the Shannon airport commemorating this event.


Ten years later in 1952 the Irish coffee recipe came to the Buena Vista restaurant In San Francisco, California.

One night the owner of the Buena Vista Jack Koeppler and travel writer Stanton Delaplane decided to recreate the Irish coffee Stan had tasted at the Shannon airport. They thought it would be a simple process. They were wrong. After many experiments using different mixtures Stan was ready to give up. It didn't taste the same and the cream always sank to the bottom.

Jack being persistent and not giving up traveled to the Shannon airport to taste the real thing. When he returned it was decided to used only quality Irish whiskey for the proper taste.

They figured out that the cream had to be slightly aged and lightly whipped in order not to sink to the bottom of the glass.

That was when the American version of the Irish coffee recipe was born.

This drink can be enjoyed at the Buena Vista to this day. As a matter of fact they serve up to 2,000 Irish coffees a day.

Now here is what you've been reading all this history for, the original Irish coffee recipe served at Foynes back in 1942. Enjoy.


The Original Irish Coffee Recipe

1) Preheat a stemmed 6 oz. whiskey goblet (or an Irish coffee cup. See picture.) with boiling water. Pour out the boiling water.

2) Add one jigger of good Irish whiskey.

3) Add three sugar cubes.

4) Pour in strong black coffee. Leave an inch below the top. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

5) Gently pour in some very lightly whipped heavy cream to the brim. You can pour it over a spoon so it won't mix in with the coffee.

(Hint: You can whip the cream to a light froth by hand with a metal whisk or a fork. I use a whisk. What can I say, my wife has a well-equipped kitchen.)

Don't stir after adding the heavy cream. The authentic taste of Irish coffee is achieved when you drink the coffee and whiskey through the cream.

The sugar is important too. It helps keep the cream on top.

Don't worry. After I took the picture of the coffee (above) I promtly drank it. It would be a shame to waste good Irish whiskey for the sake of a picture wouldn't now.


The above recipe is the original. It only takes a few minutes to make. I have my own version of Irish coffee that only takes seconds to make.

Are you ready?

Here's my Irish coffee recipe.

1) Pour yourself a cup of coffee.

2) Add a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream.

3) Drink.

I know. I know. That was just pure brilliance.

Actually the first time I had that drink I was told it was Irish coffee, now I know better. But I still enjoy a little Bailey's in my coffee once in a while.

I hope you've enjoyed the history lesson and the recipes, especially that last one.


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