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Celebrate St. Pat’s with real Irish coffee

Cassie BendelFiled under: Espresso Beverages by Cassie Bendel

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What better way to celebrate all things green than with the famous original recipe straight from Shannon?

A recent study suggested that St. Patrick’s Day is so popular in the US because there are now more people in this country who claim to have Irish ancestry than there are people currently living in Ireland.
And who can blame us? Ireland has given us brilliant writers like James Joyce, Maeve Binchy, and Oscar Wilde. If you love music, without Ireland there would be no Bono, no Van Morrison, no the Pogues. Without Ireland, I wouldn’t have my grandfather’s strange sayings like “may God turn the ankles of our enemies so that we may know them by their limps” (among, oddly, many others) to call upon when making a toast.

Without Ireland, there would be no Irish Coffee

It’s said that Irish coffee got its start one cold night in the late 1940’s at a lounge in what is now the Shannon International Airport. Bartender and chef Joseph Sheridan poured a shot of Irish whiskey and some fresh cream into cups of coffee to warm up some freezing passengers. The passengers asked if the coffee was Brazilian.
“No,” Sheridan is said to have replied. “That’s Irish coffee.”
The rest, as they say, is history. From there, the owners of the famous Buena Vista cafe in San Francisco adopted the recipe and made it famous. 
The recipe is relatively simple, but much like the Buena Vista guys found out, it takes the right ingredients to make it right. You’ll want to combine a shot of whiskey, fresh, piping hot coffee (or espresso, of course), a few tablespoons of brown sugar, and fresh cream that you’ve whipped yourself. Pour the cream over the back of a spoon to “float” it on top of the coffee. You can click here to see the Buena Vista’s official recipe, step by step. 

If you want to try a different take on the famous recipe, here are few tasty ones I found online:

Sunny Irishman

This is what an Irishman on vacation in Florida might drink. Courtesy of the Food Network, the Sunny Irishman combines 1/2 an ounce of orange liqueur (such as Triple Sec or Cointreau) with the regular recipe but skips the brown sugar. Sounds like a good way to start the day!

Extra Creamy Irishman


Add a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream in addition to your whiskey and you’ll not only get double the punch but a super creamy take on the original. Bailey’s also carries mint and chocolate flavors of their Irish Cream that would certainly compliment the original recipe well. If you prefer the chocolate flavor, you can also try Godiva Liqueur instead. Mix in a dash of nutmeg to spice up all that richness.

Flaming Irishman

For the pyromaniacs of the group, Flaming Irish Coffee calls for a shot of Irish Mist liqueur set briefly on fire before pouring the coffee on top and filling with whiskey and fresh cream. A definite show-stopper indeed!

But-it’s-a-weekday Irishman

Ok, so it is a Tuesday and most of us do have to get up and work tomorrow. If you still want to enjoy the flavor of Irish coffee without the alcohol, consider mixing your coffee or espresso with a shot of Irish cream-flavored syrup or amaretto-flavored syrup. You can still spoil yourself with the fresh cream and not feel like you’re missing anything.
Be sure to enjoy yourself today, no matter what you have to do. Even if you’re not Irish, celebrate those personality traits of yours that at least make you seem Irish, whether it be the gift of gab, a hot temper, or a dry, quick-witted sense of humor. Slainte!

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