An Irish Coffee is one of the easiest—and tastiest—cocktails to make. Just add a little sugar, a shot of Irish whiskey, some hot coffee and top with a squirt of canned whipped cream, right?
Well, many restaurants do make it this way, but a few tweaks to technique, along with fresh, quality ingredients, can elevate the experience and render the real deal. Here are a few tips from some Irish Coffee experts.
Start with a smaller glass. “The biggest mistake people make is the wrong size glass,” says Jillian Vose, beverage director and managing partner of Irish bar/cocktail parlour The Dead Rabbit in New York. A 6-oz. stemmed glass is ideal, she says.
Use a lighter-style Irish whiskey. The whiskey may be a matter of personal preference, but you do want a balanced cocktail. Most people use Jameson since it’s the best known and widely available; Bushmills, Tullamore D.E.W., The Sexton and Slane Irish Whiskey are all good options as well. Vose also recommends Clontarf and Teeling rum cask finish.
Brew hot, fresh coffee. Choice of coffee is important too; The Dead Rabbit uses Sumatra coffee. In fact, Slane Irish Whiskey partnered with Oakland, CA-based Red Bay on a limited-edition, custom roast designed to taste like whiskey, with notes of nutmeg, vanilla cream and sweet tobacco.
Use real cream. No, you shouldn’t use canned whipped cream. You want cream with a fat content of 35%-38%, Vose explains. A proper Irish coffee should look like a Guiness beer with a creamy head, not like a foofy dessert.
Shake it, don’t beat it. You don’t want to overwhip the cream. Vose suggests a protein shaker with a spring, but you can use a cocktail shaker, or even a mason jar. And don’t add sugar. Use a rich demerera syrup (or sugar) to sweeten the coffee—not the cream.
- 1 oz. Irish whiskey
- 3 oz. Rich hot coffee brewed
- ¼ oz. Brown sugar simple syrup or ½ tsp. dry brown sugar
- ½ cup Heavy whipping cream (must be full fat!)
- First, pour the heavy whipping cream into a cocktail shaker or mason jar and shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds or until the cream thickens. You’ll be able to hear the liquid start to quiet as it thickens up—make sure the shaker or jar lid are secured! Set aside once the cream has set.
- Add the brown sugar or syrup to your glass. Pour in the Irish whiskey.
- Next add the brewed coffee until there’s about 1-½ inches of space left between the liquid contents and glass rim. If using dry brown sugar instead of simple syrup, stir after adding the coffee to dissolve the sugar.
- Grab the heavy cream, take a bar or soup spoon, and slowly pour the cream over the back of the spoon to the rim. No need to stir—include both the cream and coffee/whiskey mixture in each sip as you enjoy.