The Original Irish Coffee Recipe and Its History

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee Recipe

I have often heard the expression that, on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish.  It is easy to share in the luck of the Irish, by enjoying a classic Irish Coffee.   

When should you drink Irish Coffee? We say drink it whenever you feel the need for something that will warm you to your toes.  Is Irish Coffee made with whiskey good for your health?  Well, my grandfather Peter would drink an Irish Coffee every Friday night after dinner, and he lived to be ninety-seven.

The Irish Coffee was created in the winter of 1943 by Joe Sheridan, chef at Foynes Port near Limerick, Ireland. Foynes was an airbase for transatlantic flights at the time that often carried political or Hollywood figures. The airbase was usually just a stop over for longer flights to refuel and often due to weather passengers would need to stay for the night and new restaurant was created to cater to these dignified passengers. 

One evening, a flight had to turn back to Foynes Air base mid way through its journey. Chef Joe Sheridan, feeling empathy for the delayed, cold and weary passengers decided to whip up something special for them to drink. The story goes that a silence descended as everyone enjoyed this delectable concoction.

Joe Sheridan - Foynes, Ireland - Inventor of the Original Irish Coffee Recipe

According to legend, the name came about with the following exchange:

"Hey Buddy," said a surprised American passenger, "is this Brazilian coffee?" "No," said Joe, "that's Irish Coffee."

Irish Coffee became a huge success and an airport specialty. In 1952, after the war, Irish Coffee was introduced to the United States, by travel writer, Stanton Delaplane. He brought it to the attention of Jack Koeppler, a bartender at the Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco and persuaded him to recreate it.

The cream kept sinking when Koeppler tried to make the drink, so he traveled to the source, Chef Joe Sheridan in Limerick, Ireland to learn the correct way to make this delicious coffee.

Joe Sheridan serving Marilyn Monroe Irish Coffee 

Joe Sheridan serving Irish Coffee to Marilyn Monroe

This is the recipe offered by Joe Sheridan, to make a true Irish Coffee:

Cream - Rich as an Irish Brogue
Coffee - Strong as a Friendly Hand
Sugar - Sweet as the tongue of a Rogue
Whiskey - Smooth as the Wit of the Land

The Original Irish Coffee Recipe


Irish Coffee Ingredients

  • 4 ounces strong rich hot coffee
  • 1 1/2 ounce Irish Whiskey
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar ​
  • 1 ounce lightly whipped double cream
  1. Warme the mug with hot water.
  2. Pour the sugar and then the coffee into a warmed mug.
  3. Stir until dissolved.
  4. Add the Irish whiskey and stir again.
  5. Float the cream on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon. Do not stir again. Instead, drink the coffee through the cream.

Using the best coffee beans, ground into the best coffee and brewed properly, plays a supporting role to the other key components.  So buy some of the best organic coffee and brew up some of the best tasting coffee in the world, pick you favorite bean and make sure it's hot before beginning. Read below for information on this simple coffee cocktail.


Video Speros Apollo preparing Irish Coffee Drink at the Twin Peaks Tavern in San Francisco, California

There is no question about it, Irish coffee should be made with an Irish Whisky and love. Choose something in the mid-range with a mild, sweet finish to counter the bitter coffee. When made with an 80-proof whiskey in the measurements given in the recipe, the Irish Coffee is:

It is a simple sipper, so just sit back and enjoy.
'Do shláinte' (Gaelic Toast)
to your health.

A Few Popular Variations on Irish Coffee

The Buena Vista Cafe

Buena Vista Irish Coffee - San Francisco Restaurant


  1. Fill glass with hot water to preheat, then empty.
  2. Drop in 2 sugar cubes. Pour hot coffee into hot glass until it is about three quarters full.
  3. Stir until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved.
  4. Add Irish whiskey for proper taste and body. Don’t stir!
  5. Top with a collar of lightly whipped cream by pouring gently over the convex side of a spoon. Enjoy it while piping hot.
Source: Eat Feastly
    Baileys Irish Coffee Recipe




















    • In a tall glass, add hit brewed coffee, Baileys, and Irish whiskey, then stir well. Do a quick taste test; if you'd like it to be sweeter, add up to 1 tsp light brown sugar, then stir.

    • If desired, top Irish coffee with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and more brown sugar. 

    • Serve immediately.

      Source: Bailey's Irish Coffee Recipe




      The Ireland Whiskey Trail: Irish Coffee
      Spruce: Original Irish Coffee Recipe and Its History
      The Kitchn: How To Make Classic Irish Coffee