How to Make Real Irish Coffee

On a trip to Dublin a few years ago, I befriended a group of older Irish women at a bar one afternoon, just like everyone else. At some point during the conversation, it turned out that I had never drunk real Irish coffee. After a few seconds, they made sure that one was in my hand, and I was hooked.

In the United States, “Irish coffee” can mean anything from a cup of coffee with a shot of whiskey to an actual sentence, but more often than not, it’s somewhere in between.

Traditional Irish coffee is usually served in a small glass cup like the one in the photo above. Most often it is made with Jameson and sweetened coffee, and chilled double cream (liquid cream, not canned whipped cream) is added on top, which can be tricky.

I spent last week in Ireland and my Irish coffee dojo Martin demonstrated how to do magic in one of the bars we stopped at. You can watch my demo video below:

Video: E.Price

Given that I filmed it in a crowded bar in a less than ideal way, I also included a demo from Jameson himself, which is slightly different from what Martin showed me.

My written instructions below are what I was taught and I think it will lead to more authentic and tasty coffee, but you do it yourself and adjust if necessary.

How to do it

You want to start by heating up your class by pouring hot water. If you use one of those fancy coffee glasses like mine, then you need to put a spoon in the cup so as not to break it.

After pouring out the water, fill the glass about 2/3 full and then add some sugar. Jameson says to use 2 parts Demerara sugar and 1 part Muscovado sugar, while Martin just used three tablespoons of brown sugar. Yes, this is a lot of sugar, but this amount is necessary not only for the right taste, but also to ensure the smoothness of the cream.

After you add the sugar, stir it thoroughly and make sure it is completely dissolved, then add the whiskey. For a glass of the same size, I used a shot of whiskey and a little more as a sign of good luck. If you use a larger glass, by all means, more whiskey.

Stir the coffee again and you’ll be ready for the cream. This was the most interesting detail for me. At home, when I tried to do this, before pouring the cream, it sinks to the bottom. Not what you want. This can happen when you don’t have enough sugar, but it’s also a problem if you mess up your fill.

To do this, place the spoon directly on the coffee in the glass, so close that the bottom of the spoon gets wet, but there is no coffee inside the spoon. Then you slowly pour the cream into a spoon, allowing it to spread over the surface of the drink.

In Jameson’s video above, a spoonful of thicker cream is spooned on top, which also works, but doesn’t look so good in my opinion. If you want to be super-light, you can also use canned whipping cream, but it’s far from real and definitely not as tasty.

If you end up with the spoon in the wrong place, which is easy to do, you end up just spreading the cream all over the glass. It’s still delicious, but definitely not that pretty.

If you’re looking for a tasty treat on this St. Patrick’s Day, I definitely recommend trying Irish coffee. You will thank me later.


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