There’s nothing quite like it.
A heady mix of all the best things; booze, coffee, full-fat Irish cream and sugar, a well made Irish coffee on a cold day is one of the great guilty pleasures of winter.
With all the hoopla about Irish Coffee Day (January 25th), you might believe that this is a beverage that is only to be enjoyed by visiting Americans.
The Irish coffee is the precursor to the ubiquitous espresso martini; we were enjoying the sacred blend of coffee, booze, and cream long before any fancy mixologists got their hands on the recipe.
It all started at the airport…
Invented by Tyrone chef Joe Sheridan, the Irish coffee came about almost by accident and has a direct link to aviation.
Working in the restaurant at Foynes Airport, which was just outside Limerick, in winter, 1943, Sheridan was asked to prepare a drink for passengers who were returning to the runway on a canceled flight that had been bound for New York until the pilot was forced to turn around because of bad weather.
His decision to add a dash of whiskey to everyone’s coffee was widely applauded by everyone on board. The next day, Sheridan refined the recipe, carefully adding a layer of fresh cream, and decided to serve it in a long-stemmed glass.
Voila; a classic was born.
A few years later in 1952, word of the delicious drink had spread across the water and Joe was offered a job mixing his favourite drink for guests at The Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco. He accepted the position and emigrated, working at the hotel for a decade until he passed away in 1962.
Here, in his honour, are eight great Yay Cork reader-recommended places to enjoy a proper Irish coffee in Cork:
1. Le Chateau, St Patrick’s Street
Michael Reidy’s Irish coffee has been the toast of tourists and locals alike for years. It’s the perfect cold-weather drink to enjoy while people watching al fresco on the Le Chateau terrace.
2. Dan Lowrey’s
Established in 1897, Dan Lowrey’s Tavern on Mac Curtain Street has been serving whiskey since before you were born, so it’s safe to say they know their stuff when it comes to whipping up an Irish coffee. Order the fish and chips while you’re there.
3. The Shelbourne
Also on MacCurtain Street, The Shelbourne Bar serves up classic Paddy Whiskey Irish coffees for the bargain price of €5. If you’re feeling exotic you can order a Caribbean coffee – Dead Man’s Fingers Coffee Rum, freshly brewed java, homemade brown sugar syrup, and cream.
4. Blarney Castle and Gardens
Sure; the tourists go wild for it. Still, there are few things nicer than setting off for a frosty winter walk around Blarney Castle and Gardens with a lovely takeaway Irish coffee (€6.95) to keep your hands (and your cockles) warm.
5. The Mutton Lane
Cosy, dark and lit by flickering candles, The Mutton is probably the ideal spot to settle into the snug and sip a decadent drink. These guys have a fine reputation for making Irish coffees (they use Powers Gold Label and a sprinkle of nutmeg) which you can get your hands on for €6.
6. JJ Coppingers
This trendy Midleton pub is 300m from The Jameson Experience, home of the world’s largest distiller of Irish whiskey. Their display cabinet contains €60k worth of Midleton Very Rare Whiskeys, but you can drop in for one of their Irish coffees, served in a special Slane whiskey glass, any time for just €7.
7. The River Lee Hotel
If you’re feeling especially fancy, nab a seat on the terrace or a book a leather banquette and savour an Irish Coffee Paddy – Irish whiskey and hot espresso, topped with a generous dollop of hand-whipped double cream (€10).
A number of readers were eager to recommend this Oliver Plunkett Street restaurant for their top-notch Irish coffees. The best way to finish a meal, Jacques offers some variations involving tequila, chili or Baileys too. Ideal as an accompaniment to their sharing plate of desserts.