This is National Irish Coffee Week, and if you’re located in the northestern United States, it couldn’ve come at a better time. It is just a hot mess outside today weatherwise, all icy and whatnot. I tried my first Irish Coffee when I was 18 or 19 years old. I was trying to appear sophisticated, so I ordered it with a group of co-workers on a frosty winter day way back in 1981.
I was surprised when the server brought this concoction in a glass mug piled high with whipped cream. She then artfully drizzled green creme-de-menthe and chocolate syrup all over the top. It was spectacular; the swirls of stiff cream looked like a minature mountain while the irridescent ribbons of green and brown slowly glided in between the crevices of whipped cream. Iwondered aloud how to drink it, and someone said to drink a bit of the coffee through the small red and white coffee stirrers provided.
As I took the first sip it was incredibly hot , and the bitter, sharp sting of the whiskey proved a bit challenging to me. I wasn’t accoustomed to the taste; you see, I cut my drinking teeth on frozen daquiris and other sweet drinks. Another person said to stir the cream into the coffee slowly, so that as the cream melted it would cool off the drink. I followed their instructions, and secretly felt like I was in an exclusive club. That was before I went to Ireland and had the authentic version.
The chef intructor took us to Slain Castle ( the same place where U2 filmed one of their videos), and had a great dinner. We had some pink trout among other things, and at the end I ordered an Irish coffee. What I got was nothing I had ever seen before. Instead of the glorious mounds of whipped cream and the familiar drizzles of green and brown oozing their way down the sides of my glass, I was greeted with a pedestrian-looking coffee with some cream floating on the top. The only thing spectacular about the dring was the ornate crystal glass it was housed in. What I wasn’t prepared for was the taste.
Our instructor saw the look on my face and said, ” Just sip it through the cream, and don’t stir it.” Following his directive, I sipped the coffee carefully. The sensations were great; first came the cold and suprisingly thick cream, and then a warm rush of the coffee chasing it. I remembered closing my eyes, and thinking, “Where had THIS been all my life???” Instead of a bitter wash of whiskey and coffee, it was warm, sweet and simply sublime. I didn’t miss the cream de menthe or the chocolate syrup at all.
So my friends, you too can have the same experience I had in Ireland at home. Here is a recipe I’ve culled from my memory; it’s simple!
Two large mugs
stainless steel bowl
measuring cups and spoons
You will need ( 2 servings)
2 cups brewed coffee, strong
1/2 cup whipping cream, cold
2 healthy shots of your favorite Irish Whiskey ( John Powers, Jameson, or Bushmills)
4 T. turbinado sugar, or your choice of artificial sweetener.
Refrigerate stainless steel bowl until cold. Pour cream into bowl and whisk by hand until cream is thick and still pourable, not whipped. Set aside.
In two large mugs pour boiling water into each mug and let sit for two minutes. Discard water, and add desired amount of sugar to each mug and stir. Add one shot of whiskey to each mug. Add coffee, leaving an inch below the rim of each mug. Spoon the stirred cream into each mug and serve. It is imperative that you don’t stir the cream into the coffee; sip the coffee through the cream carefully in order to appreciate the whole experience.