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Irish coffee recipe - pure indulgence

A taste of Ireland, best savoured sipped from Irish coffee glasses.

There's nothing really traditional about this Irish coffee recipe not if you expect a good few generations to have elapsed before something earns the status of 'traditional'. Certainly our 18th- and 19th-century ancestors wouldn't recognise it.

But while Irish coffee (or any coffee for that matter) wouldn't have been on the horizon of the majority throughout those years, the drink has become one of the symbols of Ireland.

The drink wasn't created until 1942 when a young Tyrone chef called Joe Sheridan served it to air passengers one cold winter night at Limerick's Foynes airport.

Since then, it has taken on a personality synonymous with indulgence and luxury, and comes best dressed in its very own, distinctively designed, Irish coffee mug.

So what is the secret ingredient of this instantly recognisable black and white beauty?

You might be told that the cream sits dutifully on top of the hot drink only if you've used Irish whiskey (rather than Scotch or Bourbon). It's a good yarn, but it isn't true. The secret lies in the way you pour the cream.

Here's how to get perfect results


  • 1 large measure Irish whiskey
  • 2 tsp brown or demerara sugar
  • strong hot coffee, freshly percolated
  • Lightly whipped cream or cold double cream


* Gently warm the Irish coffee mugs. Place a teaspoon in a mug to ensure the glass doesn't crack

* Half fill with very hot strong coffee.

* Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.

* Pour in the whiskey. Remove the teaspoon.

* Top up to within half an inch (1.5cm) of the top of the mug.

* Hold a fresh teaspoon, curved side up, over the glass but very close to the coffee. Gently, and slowly, slide whipped cream off the teaspoon onto the top of the coffee so that it floats. If using liquid cream, pour the cream very slowly over the back of the spoon onto the top of the coffee. Don't rush. If you hurry this, the cream will sink. It'll still taste great but won't look as impressive!

Who cares if the Irish coffee recipe has been around for only seventy-odd years?

The Old Bushmills Distillery in County Antrim