Commentary

Irish Coffee (A Pub Story)

Yes it’s miserable out there tonight: a freezing rain and a strong wind are not something I recommend for anyone’s health. What will it be for you to warm up? Ahhhh an Irish coffee is what you’ll have… An excellent choice.

Let me tell the tale of Irish coffee while I fix you one.

It is said the very first Irish coffee was invented by Joseph Sheridan, a barkeep at an airbase located in Foynes, a small town in the West of Ireland.

The story goes that this drink was the result of a group of American passengers back in the Forties disembarked from a Pan Am flight on a miserable evening like the one we’re having. Sheridan added a generous measure of whiskey to the coffee to warm the shivering passengers. The story since told is that one of the passengers asked if they were being served Brazilian coffee, Sheridan told them it was Irish coffee.

Now this doesn’t explain the commonly accepted Irish coffee recipe that calls for fresh brewed coffee, a tablespoon of brown sugar, a generous dollop of Irish whiskey, and a tablespoon lightly whipped heavy cream. I always ask the drinker which way they prefer their Irish coffee as more than a few like it sans the cream and sugar. Others shudder at the idea of skipping these ingredients. It’s the punters choice as always, as one staffer wrote in the Pub journal one night: ‘It’s all Irish whiskey all the time for me, honestly! Irish coffee, especially, tends to be my drink of choice: there’s just something glorious about quality coffee, heavy cream, and a generous bit of sweet, golden Irish sunshine. Er, not to wax poetic or anything.’

I use a dark roast, preferably Kona if I can get it or even Jamaican Blue Mountain when that blessed bean is available. The whiskey, Irish of course, is one of the good single malts, usually Connemara which is a peat-smoked single-malt whiskey from the Cooley Distillery. If you insist, I’ll put sugar and cream in, but I think it’s better with just coffee and whiskey.

Here’s your Irish coffee. Slante!

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