With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner, may the luck...and drinks, of the Irish be with you. Given the upcoming festivities, now is as good a time as any to take a look at the history of one of the most (in)famous, drinks in the world—the Irish Coffee.

In true Celtic fashion, think Leprechauns and pots of gold, the origins of the Irish Coffee begins with a local folklore...Legend has it that the drink was invented in a cafe at the now-defunct Foynes Airport. In 1943, on a particularly nasty winter evening, a flight bound for Botwood, Newfoundland made the critical decision to return to Foynes after several hours in the air. Consider that 1943 was during WWII and commercial air travel was really in its infancy—think well-heeled men and women on a flying-boat voyage. The circumstances of the diverted flight were trying at best and left passengers a little bit more than peeved.

Upon making the decision to head back to Foynes, the captain reportedly sent a Morse-code message to the control tower, alerting ground operations personnel of the impending return. At the terminal, preparations were made to welcome back the crew and passengers. I know, you're skeptical already; but keep in mind, this was the 1940s...flying was a glitzy affair.

Irish CoffeeBack to the regularly scheduled story...Head chef Joe Sheridan of the airport restaurant was hastily asked to make something to warm the passengers and lift their spirits. He decided to...well...add a little spirit to their drinks. After all what could keep you warmer and happier than a hot coffee and some good old Irish whiskey? As the night progressed and everybody had been served, one of the passengers approached Sheridan to thank him for the hospitality. Making small talk, the passenger asked if Brazilian coffee had been used to prepare the drink...To which Sheridan responded "No, that was Irish Coffee." The rest is history.

From that night forward, Irish Coffee was served to all passengers going through Foynes Airport. The tradition continues to this day; dignitaries arriving at Shannon Airport are still welcomed with a warm cup of Irish Coffee. Want to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in style? Try this authentic Irish Coffee Recipe:

Joe Sheridan's Original Irish Coffee

  • 30ml Irish Whiskey
  • Freshly brewed coffee
  • 2 teaspooons of  sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh whipping cream or double cream

Preparation
Preheat an Irish Coffee Mug using hot water. Try our Stout, Classic or Pedestal version of the mug. Pour freshly brewed coffee into the mug; add sugar and whiskey. Top with cream.

Categories Coffee and Espresso

Comments (3)

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Jesse 12 months ago

Another version... ^_^ Cream as rich as an Irish brogue Coffee as strong as a friendly hand Sugar as sweet as the tongue of a rogue Whiskey as smooth as the wit of the land
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BIll 12 months ago

Love your website, and that's a nice story about Irish coffee, but... the recipe leaves a lot to be desired. 3ml is about a half tsp whiskey. Perhaps you meant 30ml (1 oz.) or 3 Tbs (1 jigger). Similarly, 2 tsp of whipped cream is an almost invisible amount. More like 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons). My favorite addition to Irish coffe is to wet the rim with whiskey, and frost it with raw sugar after the glass is warmed. Flaming the glass w 2 tsp whiskey helps seal it to the rim.
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Angelo 12 months ago

I love Irish coffee in winter when I need something warm and sweet to help me make the day. I like your recipe, Bill, and one of this day I will try it. Thanks, AP