original irish coffee

cup of hot coffee

Happy National Irish Coffee Day! Who should we thank for the invention of Irish coffee? A quick-thinking chef at what is now the Shannon International Airport in Ireland and a group of weary American travelers. The story goes that a group of Americans had just arrived on a miserable winter night and chef Joe Sheridan added whiskey to their coffee to warm them up. The Americans asked if they had been served Brazilian coffee (as in coffee bean) and Sheridan told them it was “Irish coffee.”

Irish coffee has since become quite popular in America thanks to a travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle who first enjoyed it at the Shannon International Airport. The basic recipe has evolved over the years, but I’m going to share with you my take (which adds a pinch of cinnamon) on the original recipe.

Irish Coffee

In a large mug, pour the black coffee about two-thirds full. Stir in the brown sugar until fully dissolved. Add the Irish whiskey, and give it a quick stir.

Using a teaspoon, carefully pour the thick cream over the back of the spoon held just above the surface of the coffee. You want the layer of cream to float on the coffee without mixing in it. Top it with a pinch of cinnamon.

Drink the coffee through the layer of cream. Sláinte!



4 ounces freshly brewed black coffee
1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
splash of thick, heavy cream
pinch of ground cinnamon


Number of servings: 1

Cooking time: 2 minutes