The Good Life

Irish Coffee: Coffee’s Greatest Cocktail

Dec 18, 2018 | By Jack Bettridge
Irish Coffee: Coffee’s Greatest Cocktail
Photo/iStock

We can safely assume that self-styled mixologists have been adding whiskey to their coffee ever since the two were available in one place, but the foremost java cocktail was not codified until the age of commercial transatlantic flight. The story goes that in 1943, bad weather forced a Pan Am flying boat on its way to New York back to Ireland and the passengers were given Irish whiskey, coffee and a topping of cream to keep them warm.

It wasn’t long before the drink flew international. The mellow, caramel of Irish whiskey softens the acidic coffee. The sugar in the mix makes the cream buoyant, and the combination comes together as the dark lower layer is drunk through the light floater. The result is one of our favorite drinks, a simple cocktail that pairs oh-so-well with a bracing cigar.

Irish Coffee

  • 4 oz black coffee
  • 2 oz Irish whiskey
  • 11/2 oz heavy cream
  • 1 tsp (or to taste) brown sugar

Heat a goblet or glass mug in hot water. Whisk the cream to a light thickness (you’ll have to pour it later). Mix coffee, whiskey and sugar in the glass. Pour cream over an inverted spoon to float on top. 

MORE: Get to know supremely smooth Irish whiskey, a spirits category with more choices than you think

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