Friday, March 11, 2011

I'll toast you with Irish coffee

I'll be away from my post all next week for some time off. Before I go, it seems fitting to leave you with a few words about Irish coffee.

Several years ago, I did a little research into Irish coffee. I started with the idea that too many bars muck it up. The worst sins: Canned whipped topping, a tiny straw for sipping, and shamrocks drizzled with green liqueur.

The green liqueur thing is up to you and your conscience. Canned whipping topping is particularly horrible when you discover how easy it is to whip your own cream. And the tiny straw? It's a violation to the original intent of the drink.

Irish coffee started at Foynes airport in Western Ireland in 1942. In those days, air travel from America was by seaplanes, which had to land on water. The whole process, including the landing at Foyne, was cold, wet and fairly miserable. So, to welcome and warm passengers, chef Joe Sheridan at Foynes came up with the idea of serving sweet coffee spiked with whiskey and topped with cream. It didn't hurt that the concoction looked a wee bit like a foam-topped Guinness.

The idea of the cream on top was that you drank the hot coffee through it, which cooled and flavored it. Adding a straw might be a trifle less messy, but you miss the original effect.

Irish coffee eventually traveled to America, where it became the specialty at Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco.

OK, enough history. When I wrote that story in 2007, I was forced to try a number of formulas for Irish Coffee. This was my favorite. I'll think of you when I have one Thursday and I hope you'll do the same.

Irish Coffee

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons light brown sugar or Sugar in the Raw

2 tablespoons Irish whiskey (I prefer Jamison's, but Bushmills or Tullamore Dew are fine, too)

Strong, hot, brewed coffee

PLACE cream and granulated sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk or beat with an electric mixer until it thickens and mounds softly when dropped from a spoon, but not until it forms soft peaks that stand up and curl over when the whisk is lifted. Set aside and keep cold.

POUR hot water (from the tap is fine) into a heat-proof glass mug (one with a handle and stem is traditional). Let stand a minute to warm the glass, then empty it.

PLACE brown sugar and whiskey in the warmed mug. Add coffee to about 1 inch from the top. Stir to combine.

SPOON whipped cream on top until it reaches the top of the glass. Serve, sipping the coffee through the cream.

Makes 1 serving, with enough cream to top several.


FullBloodedIrish said...

The problem with Irish coffee is that it ruins three good drinks: coffee, cream and whiskey.

Anonymous said...

You going to rehab Kathleen?

Anonymous said...

Irish Coffee is the PERFECT beverage - it contains all 4 major food groups - sugar, alcohol, fat and caffeine!

Anonymous said...

Maybe I should, Anonymous 2:23. You commenters are driving me to drink!

Anonymous said...

Oh Kathleen, KATHLEEN! It's OA (Overeaters)... not AA!