The simplicity of the Irish Coffee belies this classic cocktail’s excellence. It’s made from three basic ingredients – Irish whiskey, coffee and cream – with some sugar often thrown in to sweeten the deal. The soft malt flavor of the whiskey somehow just goes perfectly with the coffee’s bitter jolt of caffeine, making for an enduring classic. 

Irish Coffee’s origins in the U.S. are said to date back to the 1950s, when the owner of San Francisco’s The Buena Vista Café enlisted travel writer Stanton Delaplane to reformulate a drink he had at Shannon Airport in Ireland. You can now find Irish coffee at nearly any restaurant or bar—although truth be told, most are made quickly and carelessly, ruining the plot of what could be an otherwise perfect drink.

The best whiskey to use is often a simple Irish whiskey blend – think Jameson, Slane, Bushmills, or Tullamore D.E.W. But if you feel like splurging and kicking up the flavor a bit, go for a single pot still like Redbreast, or try a single malt from Teeling or Tyrconnell. For a whiskey with a more bourbon-like taste, you can use a single grain expression from Kilbeggan.

As for coffee, the options are endless – espresso, cold brew, French press, or even percolator-brewed will do.

New York City’s The Dead Rabbit has one of the best Irish whiskey collections in the country, so naturally this award-winning bar is a go-to spot for Irish Coffee.


.625 oz Demerara syrup

1 oz Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey

3 ½ oz coffee

Top with freshly whipped heavy cream

Garnish with nutmeg (optional)

Method: Build in 6 oz glass. Add 1 oz whiskey, fill coffee/Demerara mix up until an index finger’s worth of room is left in glass, top with cream.

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