It's Wonkette Happy Hour (Again), With This Week's Cocktail, Irish Coffee!

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It's Wonkette Happy Hour (Again), With This Week's Cocktail, Irish Coffee!

Sooo good.

Matthew Hooper

Our motel wi-fi did not catch my edit where I put this on the homepage. Consider it your Saturday evening happy hour instead! — Editrix

Greetings, Wonketteers! I'm Hooper, your bartender, and here is your SPECIAL BLACK FRIDAY cocktail! Let's toss in one more after-dinner drink to get you past the leftovers. Have some Irish Coffee with me. Here's the recipe.

Irish Coffee

2 oz Irish whiskey

1/2 oz brown sugar syrup (1:1 brown sugar/water)

4-5 oz fresh coffee

1 oz heavy cream, lightly whipped

Fill a glass coffee cup to the rim with hot water. In a separate tumbler, add the Irish whiskey and brown sugar syrup. Stir until combined. Discard the hot water, add the whiskey/syrup mixture, and top with hot coffee. Float the cream on top of the coffee using the back of a bar spoon.

Irish coffee is the perfect drink for weary travelers stuck in an airport. It was invented in 1943 by Joe Sheridan, the head chef of a hotel in Limerick. It was a spur-of the moment concoction, something he whipped up to boost the spirits of weary travelers stuck in a hotel overnight. It gained popularity in 1955, and while I haven't seen it on many menus lately it's never fallen completely out of fashion. Alcohol and coffee are a great combination.

When I look at Joe's original recipe, though, I see some interesting details that separate it from the quick and dirty versions I serve at the bar. Let's walk through the ingredients and I'll point out some key details.

Ingredient shot. This cocktail disappeared, slowly and delightfully, in a leisurely manner after drinking this. Ingredient shot. This cocktail disappeared, slowly and delightfully, in a leisurely manner after drinking this. Matthew Hooper

Irish Whiskey: I like Jameson's. It's pedestrian of me, but JayMo is sweet, light, pleasant, and comfortable. Nothing wrong with that, especially here. Proper Twelve is nice, but a little thinner than Jameson. And Conor McGregor is a jerk, so screw him. Writers' Tears is the best Irish whiskey I've ever tasted. It's rich, almost creamy, with some amazing honey undertones. It's honestly too good to use here – all those subtleties will get lost in the brown sugar and coffee. Drink Writers' Tears neat, and use something simpler in this glass.

You can certainly use another dark liquor if you'd like. I would love to put some Demerara rum in this cup. Bourbon is fine here too – use one of my workhorses, Bulleit or Four Roses. Brandy or cognac? Certainly. I will glare at you sternly if you use unflavored vodka. A nice chocolate or vanilla vodka will do.

If you want to use a liqueur - Frangelico or Bailey's, possibly – feel free. But omit the brown sugar, please. Liqueurs are at least 2.5 percent sugar by law. The brown sugar will make your entire drink much too sweet. And please, please, please do not use Kahlua. You are already putting coffee into this glass. Flavoring good coffee with bad coffee is… just no. Kahlua is a nasty sugar bomb in any event. Creme de menthe is also a hard no, especially the ugly green stuff. "Green" does not an Irishman make.

Brown Sugar: I've explained how to make bar syrups before, and this one's no different. Just to review: warm half a cup of water on the stove, add ½ cup light brown sugar, stir until translucent. It'll keep in the fridge for weeks, so if you love Irish coffee make up as much as you'd like.

Many Irish coffee recipes call for putting brown sugar in the bottom of the glass, pouring the whiskey over that, and stirring until it dissolves. That will work okay, but I like a consistent sweetness through the entire cocktail. Footed glass coffee mugs have a little dimple in the bottom. You always get some brown-sugar sludge in there if you don't dissolve the brown sugar first.

Coffee: Use your favorite. It should be good coffee, but it doesn't have to be super-pricey Starbucks stuff. An enthusiastic guest once asked Joe Sheridan, "Hey, is this Colombian coffee?" Joe replied, "Nah. It's Irish coffee." Be like Joe. Use good, fresh, hot stuff, but don't go out of your way to get something special. Irish coffee is special enough on its own.

Heavy cream: Here's where most dessert coffees go astray. If you use whipped cream from a can, it's going to be ice cold and in stiff peaks. We don't want the coffee to get cold from the cream. And if the whipped cream is stiff, the guest has to watch the whipped cream melt before drinking it. Staring at coffee until it's drinkable is no fun.

When I look at photos of Joe's original recipe, the cream lies flat on top of the cocktail. It resembles the head on a pint of Guinness more than anything else. (Joe also served his Irish coffee in a footed pilsner glass; it's clear that he wanted this drink to look like a proper pint.) You're supposed to drink the coffee through the cream, letting it mingle with each sip. Stiff whipped cream won't allow that.

Barely whip the cream. Give it a little backbone, but you don't need to approach soft-peak status. It should still be pourable. "Soupy" might be the best description here. If you get past that point, it's okay to gently ladle the cream on top.

Presentation: Please warm the coffee cup before making the cocktail. The magic of this recipe is keeping the coffee hot and fresh when you serve it. Cold glass will chill your coffee faster. No green sprinkles, or green sugar rims. Let the drink do the talking.

Make this drink without the liqour, and you've got Kaffee mit schlag, one of my wife's favorite drinks. You've got the freedom to add extra flavors here to replace the whiskey; I might use a little vanilla, or sprinkle cinnamon or chocolate shavings on top of the cream.

In summary and conclusion, drink well, drink often, and tip your bartender — donate to Wonkette at the link below! I'm currently behind the pine at Dodie's Docksidein Lorain, OH. Swing on by if you're in the neighborhood. And if you'd like to buy some ingredients or bar gear from Amazon, please click on the link above!


Matthew Hooper
Matthew Hooper, aka Samurai Grog, turned 50 in 2021 and decided to have a midlife crisis by leaving a boring sales and marketing job to tend bar at the local country club. He's never been happier. He's also a fencer, a dad, a husband, and a punk music fan. Overall, he's way cooler than he ever thought he could be when he was 16. 

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