St Patrick’s Day post-swim. How To make a great Irish Coffee!

These are my steps for a great Irish Coffee. A little difficult to make after a swim at the coast, so you’ll be doing this at home.

Irish Coffee was invented in Shannon Airport in the 1950’s by the barman in the airport pub. Shannon was also the world’s first duty free airport shopping. It is also the only airport in Europe where you can do pre-Us customs clearance.

The secrets to good Irish Coffee are correct good quality ingredients, and preparation.


  • Irish whiskey. Jameson, Paddy or Power’s Whiskey or even Bushmill’s are good for this but there are a few new very good distilleries around like Cooley.
  • Freshly whipped cream (if I see you with aerosol spray cream, which is an abomination, I’ll hunt you down and drown you). Whip the cream yourself. In fact, whip yourself if you feel like it. We’re all adults here. You don’t want the cream too thin or stiff. Soft peaks, just able to flow.
  • Medium Brown or medium muscovado sugar. Dark muscovado will work and add a caramel flavour, but it’s a bit too thick to dissolve quickly.


  • Handled Irish Coffee Glasses

    Irish Coffee Glass

    Glasses, (Irish coffee type of glass really are preferred but any long stem glass is fine), teaspoons, dessert spoons. (If you use something opaque it’ll be harder to judge levels).

  • A shot glass for the whiskey measure. Alternatively, use two fingers width for a traditional measure.
  • Good coffee. No instant coffee. Decaf is fine if it’s a strong flavour.
  • Grated chocolate.


  • Make the coffee.
  • Boil some more water. (Interesting but useless fact: I only realised in 2015 that the main reason the US don’t use  the Irish and Great British most important domestic appliance is because your electricity supply is 110 VAC and that a kettle would boil water no faster than a stove, unlike the couple of minute to boil a litre of water here when the supply is 220 VAC.)
  • Warm BOTH shot glass and Irish Coffee glass, keeping a small metal teaspoon in the Irish Coffee glass to keep it from cracking.
  • Pour a measure of whiskey into the warm shot glass to warm the whiskey, after pouring out the hot water. Otherwise cool or cold whiskey will cool the final product. Not that I have anything against extra whiskey, but don’t use too much as it will affect the final drink.
  • Pour the warmed whiskey measure into the coffee glass (after pouring out the warm water).
  • Add the coffee. An Irish Coffee glass will often have a line about two centimetres (one inch) from the top which is the maximum fill line for the coffee.
  • You have to leave room for cream AND sugar so there will less coffee than you think. Sugar does take up space in the glass even though it is dissolving!
  • Add 3 teaspoons of sugar. YES, 3. This is not time for a diet. I don’t care if you are on a diet or don’t like sugar. Stir. Insufficient sugar will cause the cream and liquid to mix prematurely. And Irish Coffee should not be bitter.
  • Use the spoon to stop the liquid rotation. This is also important for final presentation.
  • Pour the fresh cream over the back of a dessert spoon onto the top of the coffee or, if it’s too stiff, use the spoon to add it to the top.
  • Add flaked chocolate on top.

Despite the precautions this drink won’t hold heat very long.

  • The solution therefore is to make lots of it.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Next year, next year you will go for a swim.

English: Irish Coffee glass

The Irish (or Scots Gaelic) term Uisce beatha, “the water of life” is where the word (whiskey) comes from. Whiskey from Ireland is spelled with an “e”, whisky from Scotland is spelled without an “e”.

(You may substitute whiskey with brandy to make French Coffee, which is just one of many national variations).

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