The best Irish coffee recipes take into account the preference of the drinker. Irish Coffee or Gaelic coffee, as it is sometimes known abroad, is a perfect after dinner drink. Having made Irish coffees in Ireland, Spain and the States, I consider myself to be pretty good at it by this stage. I learnt how to make Irish Coffee in the late 70's when I started working in my father's bar.
At the time, Ireland was more of a tea drinking nation and the coffee was instant and secondary to the experience. Since then things have changed.
In my recipe for Irish Coffee, I still consider the whiskey to be the most important ingredient but I am a lot more about taking into account the tastes of the drinkers. So if people don't like strong coffee, I use less and add a little boiling water to the coffee. If it's late in the evening, I often use good decaffinated coffee so that people aren't awake all night. And if people are worried about the calories, I reduce the amount of cream.
You can buy all sorts of special glasses for Irish coffees but I use a medium size wine glass most of the time which is perfectly good.
1inch/2 cm of Irish whiskey at the bottom of the glass. (Don't use your 100 year old whiskey- just a normal decent brand such as Jameson is fine). Do not heat the whiskey itself. While it might traumatise the purists, if you don't have Irish whiskey, use Scotch whiskey instead. It will still be a Gaelic coffee!
Good coffee made to the strength preferred of the die-hards. (You can add boiling water to the rest to reduce strength in glass for others)
A little less than 1 inch or 2cm of whipped cream per person. The cream must be whipped lightly so that it can be poured. You don't want it to be too thick.
1-2 teaspoons sugar per whiskey (My preference is for brown sugar)
Some boiling water
Put a spoon in glass to prevent cracking and add a little boiling water to heat the glass. Dispose of the water once glass heated.
Put in whiskey with one-two spoons of sugar. Mix well.
Add the coffee to one inch (2cm) of top of glass. Stir well to make sure sugar is dissolved.
This is the only tricky part. Take a table spoon and put it with back turning up against the side of the glass, just at the top of the coffee. Pour the cream gently over the back of the spoon.
Well done. If your Irish coffee is well made, you will have a dark brown or black glass of coffee with some delicious whipped cream on top.
The pleasure for the drinker should be to sip hot whiskeyed coffee through some cold whipped cream. I have seen some people mix the cream with the coffee as soon as they get it. This is sacrilege!
Never ever use sweetend cream or cream from a can. It's awful.
It's a good idea to give people a paper napkin or serviette when serving. I fold mine in a triangle and wrap it around the glass when serving.
You can make a Bailey's Irish Coffee is got by mixing Baileys irish cream and coffee. So just take the recipe above and substitute Bailey's Cream Liquor for Whiskey.
Find out about the best Irish whiskey brands and a little of the history of 'uisce beatha'
Try our Irish toasts page for a whole range of Irish drinking toasts for all occasions such as Christmas, St Patrick's Day and New Year, many of them funny. We also have special Irish Birthday Toast and Irish Wedding Toasts pages