Whether you've been to The Emerald Isle or not, you've probably heard of Irish coffee. If you haven't heard of the drink, I know what you're thinking: what is Irish coffee? What makes it so Irish? You've seen your mom sip on her boozy brew during holidays and throughout March, but what is this tasty beverage? Well, you're in for a treat. Here's everything you need to know about Irish coffee. 

What Is Irish Coffee?

Simply put, Irish coffee is spiked coffee with cream. If this drink peaks your interest, it's super easy to make. All you need is black coffee, sugar, Irish whiskey, and whipped cream. This drink is usually enjoyed at restaurants in the morning as a caffeinated kick-start or after dinner as a sweet treat. 

Where Does It Come From?

Let's backtrack. During the 1940's, Joe Sheridan, a chef at a terminal building in Limerick, created Irish coffee. He served the special drink to American passengers on a flying boat that needed to return to the airport after bad weather. That was where the spiked coffee made its debut, and has since become an airport staple. 

This tasty beverage made its way to the United States when a journalist tried it at an Irish airport in 1951. He brought this revolutionary idea back to Jack Koeppler, owner of the San Francisco restaurant The Buena Vista, where they created the perfect Irish coffee.

How to Make Irish Coffee

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Christine Chang

This staple starts with brewed black coffee. Next, you add sugar to taste. This typically means anywhere from 1 to 2 tablespoons per serving. Or, go sans sugar if you’re not a huge fan or sweetness. 

Then stir in booze, typically Irish whiskey. If you're feeling frisky, top it off with whipped cream. For it to float, the cream has to be correctly aged and frothed. The result: your typical morning brew with the smooth taste of whiskey, filtered through a layer of sweet whipped cream.

Change It Up

Variations of this drink range wildly, from tweaking a main ingredient to adding something unexpected. Sometimes brown sugar, syrup, or molasses serve as white sugar substitutes. However, molasses may make the drink more bitter, so be careful not to add too much. Occasionally, festive crème de menthe is drizzled on top to acknowledge the beverage’s Irish roots.

If you’re bored of your average black coffee, try these warm cocktail recipes for something new this winter. Or keep the taste of Ireland by adding Baileys Irish Cream to ice cream or tea. No matter what time of year you drink Irish coffee, now you know where it comes from and how to make it your own.