Irish coffee consists of four key ingredients: coffee, sugar, whiskey and cream. The original recipe is difficult to trace back, but most believe the original Irish coffee was first served at Foynes Airport, Ireland to a joyful bunch of returning passengers in 1943. Others claim it was invented in the Dolphin Hotel in Ireland around 1940. 

Regardless of its true origin story, Irish coffee remains to enjoy much popularity until this day. Below is our take on the best recipe we know for this delightful coffee-based beverage.

How to prepare the best Irish coffee

First, gather all the ingredients that you will need. Start with brewing your coffee (using your favorite preparation method, of course). Then see if you can get some sugar, good whiskey as well as some heavy cream. There’s not much to it and the act of preparation should be accompanied by a good mood, or else the whiskey will certainly help.

Ideally, always use the highest quality ingredients. Some examples might include:

  • Coffee – use Lavazza or a similar well-established brand of proven quality, just to be on the safe side
  • Sugar – use brown sugar, if possible, 2.5 sachets maximum
  • Whiskey – see if you have any decent Irish whiskey, preferably Jameson
  • Cream – most creams will do, but try to avoid low-fat options as they will not have the necessary consistency

Alternatively, consider using the Dubliner whiskey and Kerrygold cream, both proper Irish brands that will make you feel it. Not only are they top-notch in terms of quality, but their Irish origin will ensure your Irish coffee feels truly exceptional. Note that these ingredients helped a jolly group of bartenders win the 12th Annual Irish Coffee Contest in Swedesburg in 2017.

While brewing your coffee, whip the cream and set it aside for the minute. If you don’t want to do it manually, you can use a hand-held milk frother or something similar to the fully automatic Nespresso frother. Whipped cream is an important ingredient as it will determine the consistency and much of the overall taste of your Irish coffee.

Next, preheat your glass by pouring boiling water, preferably into a stemmed glass using a teaspoon. The spoon will help conduct heat and avoid cracking the glass. After a minute, pour the hot water out except for a little bit at the bottom. Add brown sugar and stir well. 

After that, add a measure of whiskey. We must confess, Jameson has worked the best for us here. The amount of whiskey you end up adding is up to you, but keep in mind that the mix of caffeine, sugar and alcohol can be an especially magical one.

Next, fill the glass up to one inch with coffee. Again, use a teaspoon, this time to simply avoid spilling it everywhere.

Lastly, get your fresh whipped cream out of the container using a hot teaspoon and lay it gently on top of your beverage. This is a formality, but don’t be too shy to do it with a healthy amount of pride. After all, you are likely the only person in your social circle taking the time to make Irish coffee, so hold your head up high!.

And you’re done! Just one last thing – never stir an Irish coffee. Need a simple video guide? Try this one.

Adding a modern twist

Many have naturally begun to experiment with modern Irish coffee variations. This involves modifying not just the alcohol or coffee, but any of the four ingredients.

One of our favorite modern Irish coffee recipes is The Blind Abbot. It is made using cold-brew for the coffee part and Tullamore Dew as well as Galliano Ristretto (an espresso-based liqueur) as the alcohol of choice. It also features Angostura bitters, which gives it a truly special kick.

Another one of our favorite modern Irish coffees is the Proper Irish Coffee. Containing Conor McGregor’s own whiskey brand as well as some simple syrup, this one will do you justice. Its simple but extremely satisfying taste is perfect for a rainy weekday evening. 

And if you have a sweet tooth, consider the same thing but turned into a doughnut. Yes, you heard, we said Irish coffee doughnuts.

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