The Original Irish Coffee Recipe and Its History

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee Recipe

We have often heard the expression that, on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish.  We know this to be true, and we also know that it is easy to share in the luck of the Irish, by enjoying a delicious meal and then 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 or if you crave something that will soothe you after a long week of hard work at the computer. Is Irish Coffee made with whiskey good for your health?  Well, my grandfather Peter would drink an Irish Coffee every Saturday night after dinner, and he lived to be ninety-seven.

While many coffee drinkers will search the internet and the Food Network for the best Irish Coffee Recipe. Here is the real story behind Irish Coffee, a few authentic recipes and a video. 

Irish Coffee was created in the winter of 1943 by Joe Sheridan, chef at Foynes Port near Limerick, Ireland. Foynes had become one of the biggest civilian airports in Europe during World War ll and then an airbase for transatlantic flights 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.

If you make it to Ireland be sure to head over to the airport, which is now known as Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum and have an Irish Coffee there, just remember to tell them we sent you.

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

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


Irish Coffee Recipe Ingredients

4 ounces strong rich hot coffee

1 1/2 ounce Irish Whiskey

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 ounce lightly whipped double cream


How to make the Irish Coffee recipe
  1. Warm 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 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 most delicious coffee in the world, pick your favorite coffee bean and make sure it's hot before beginning. Read below for information on this simple coffee cocktail.

Below we have a video of local Bartender Speros Apollo working hard, whipping up an Irish Coffee at Twin Peaks Tavern in San Francisco, California.


Video of 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 a true Irish Whisky and lots of love. Choose an Irish whiskey in the mid-range with a mild, sweet finish to counter the coffee. 

A Few Popular Variations on the Irish Coffee Recipe

The Buena Vista Cafe Irish Coffee Instructions

  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


    How to make Bailey's Irish Creme Coffee Recipe
    • In a tall glass, add hot 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

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