Alcohol and coffee are a mix that not many people think of, but many would be shocked how popular it really is. Irish Coffee originated in Ireland, but gained a lot of popularity in the U.S. In the winter of 1943, Joe Sheridan worked as a chef at Foynes Port, near Limerick, Ireland. A flight had to turn back to Foynes Air Base in the middle of its journey, Chef Sheridan felt bad for the passengers that had their flight delayed and were cold, so Sheridan decided to make them something nice to drink. Irish Coffee became a huge success and was a specialty at the airport. In 1952 Irish Coffee was introduced to the U.S. by a travel writer, Stanton Delaplane. Delaplane told Jack Koeppler, a bartender at the Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco and persuaded him to recreate the drink. Koeppler couldn’t perfect the drink and the cream kept sinking, so he traveled to Limerick to learn from Chef Sheridan. Koeppler was able to perfect the drink and it has continued to be a mainstay at the Buena Vista.
There have been a couple other variations about the origin of Irish Coffee. Some say it originated in a pub called Dolphin in Dublin in 1940. The drink eventually spread to Foynes Port, and/or Sheridan had the drink before, and it led to him serving it to the passengers at the airport. Some also credit its U.S. origin in New York, instead of San Francisco. The first instance of Irish coffee in the U.S. is a New York food critic, Clementine Paddleford, talking about St. Patrick’s Day in 1948. She talks about Irish Coffee and its recipe, which is similar to the one we have today. This did come before Irish Coffee in San Francisco, but San Francisco is where the coffee really took off, so the New York origin is often ignored.
To make an Irish Coffee, it only takes 4 ingredients. All it takes is cream, coffee, sugar, and whiskey. You make your hot coffee and mix in either brown or white sugar, then you add in
the whiskey, and top it off with cream. There are a couple of iterations of Irish Coffee around the world. There’s the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, which uses rum instead of whiskey. There’s the Café Correcto con Coco, which mixes whiskey and rum, and has almond milk instead of cream. There’s also the Gran Rosta Coffee which differs from traditional Irish Coffee because it has a sprinkling of popcorn powder on top.
The combination of alcohol and coffee isn’t one that many people would go to when they think about the many ways, they can have their coffee. To most the idea of mixing whiskey, or rum, with hot coffee and cream, doesn’t sound all that appealing, but once they hear about the history behind the drink, and try it for themselves, it can easily become a favorite to have on a special occasion.