Irish Coffee is one of the most photographed drinks in Irish Pubs and bars and a beloved subject for food and drink photographers. It is made with coffee, whiskey and heavy cream. Cubes of brown sugar are usually served on the side but I find that they are better added to the coffee initially prior to serving because you will want them to blend with the coffee. If you wait until after the heavy cream is added the heavy cream will mix with the coffee and ruin the separation layer between the cream and the coffee. The heavy cream is added to the coffee very slowly over the back of a spoon so that it does not fully mix with the coffee but rather floats on top. Some will sink to the bottom during this process but it usually floats back up to the top. In these particular glasses of Irish Coffee, I also added whipped cream to the top and sprinkled it with nutmeg for additional flavor. I then photographed this delicious pub and bar drink favorite.
There are many stories of the origin of Irish Coffee but this one seems the most popular. A bartender and chef, Joe Sheridan, made the drink for passengers flying into Ireland through the Foynes Airport presumably to warm them up after a long trans-Atlantic flight. When asked whether he used Brazilian coffee for the drink, he replied “No, it’s Irish Coffee.” In 1951 Stanton Delaplane was at Foynes and one of the passengers who sampled Joe Sheridan’s Irish Coffee. When Delaplane returned home to San Francisco he worked with the proprietor of the Buena Vista Cafe to work out the proper ingredients. Having achieved his mission, the Buena Vista became an overnight success and tourist destination. Joe Sheridan was subsequently offered a job at the Buena Vista where he worked for ten years.
Joe Sheridan’s original recipe is 2 brown sugar cubes, one full jigger (1.5 oz.) of Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, coffee and heavy cream. If you want to add the “peak” use heavy cream whipped to a peak. Pre-heat the traditional Irish Whiskey glass by adding hot water to it for a minute or two. Then add the coffee, Irish Whiskey and sugar cubes and stir. Slowly add the heavy cream over a spoon. Let everything settle for a minute so that any cream that sunk to the bottom floats to the top. Then enjoy!
Irish Coffee has such wide popularity that it is photographed as an after dinner drink, a holiday drink and, of course, in ubiquitous amounts on St. Patrick’s Day.
© 2017 Barbara Wrigley McDevitt ~ Minneapolis, Minnesota based Editorial and Commercial Food Photographer