Few things are so profoundly tied to the image of Ireland like an Irish coffee, a pint of Guinness and St. Patrick celebrations. Not everybody knows that this fabulous drink has a father, and that was born on a very cold night in 1943 in an aiport lounge.

Origins of Irish Coffee

During the late 1930s and early 1940s, land-based planes lacked sufficient flying range for Atlantic crossings. Foynes, located on the Shannon estuary, was the last port of call on its eastern shore for seaplanes. As a result, Foynes would become one of the biggest civilian airports in Europe during World War II. It was transformed briefly after in the Shannon Airport. Services to New York, Southampton, Montreal, Poole and Lisbon followed, the first non-stop New York service operating on June 22, 1942 in 25 hours 40 minutes. The first Duty-Free shop in the world was opened there in the terminal building, where there was also a restaurant and a coffee shop.

One night in the winter of 1943 one flight had to come back in the middle of the night due to severe weather conditions which made impossible the Atlantic crossing. The chef of the restaurant, Joe Sheridan, was asked to prepare something to warm up the returning weary passengers. He added some good Irish Whiskey to the hot coffee, with some cream on top instead of milk. One of the passengers asked: “Is it Brazilian?” and Joe replied “No, it’s Irish Coffee”… And that’s how the drink was born and found his name.

The recipe

Warm up an Irish Coffee goblet

Pour two ounces of Irish Whiskey and mix with a hot coffee sweetened with Demerara sugar.

Using the back of a teaspoon float some mildly shaken cold fresh cream on top, and garnish with some grated nutmeg. “Slainte agus tainte!”