The True Origins of Irish Coffee

January 27, 2012

“Only Irish Coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fat.” — Alex Levine

Who invented that delicious, warming, soothing drink called Irish Coffee, and where? For many years, various San Francisco establishments claimed that honor. But the truth is that the true home of Irish Coffee is Shannon Airport in Ireland.

From 1939 to 1945, American travelers had to endure an 18-hour flight by seaplane, followed by a boat ride from the plane to their terminal at the airport. In winter months, this boat ride would chill them to the bone. Mr. Brendan O’Regan was the manager of the Foynes Catering Service at that time, and he couldn’t help but notice the sorry state of the disembarking passengers. He felt that the hot coffee and tea that was being served to them just wasn’t enough.

He passed his concerns on to Joseph Sheridan, the head Chef of Foynes, who began tinkering with a drink to meet this need. Eventually, he perfected his recipe for Irish Coffee, and secured his place in history.

If you travel through Shannon Airport today, keep your eyes open for a plaque that has been placed there in honor of this momentous invention. And don’t forget to stop into The Sheridan Bar in the Departures Lounge for one of Joe Sheridan’s creations, still being made from his original recipe.

Now, I’m certain that you just can’t wait to try out this legendary recipe in it’s original form. Here is Chef Sheridan’s legendary Irish Coffee – enjoy!


Irish Coffee
Heat up a stemmed whiskey goblet.

Pour in one shot of Irish whiskey.

Drop in three white sugar cubes.

Fill nearly to the top of the goblet (stop about an inch from the rim) with strong black coffee.

Stir gently.

Pouring it over the back of a spoon, gently add heavy cream to fill the goblet, floating it on top of the coffee.

Do not stir – the full flavor as intended is achieved by sipping this drink through the cream.

Hint: If possible, use fresh cream with no additives for the best effect. Most heavy cream for sale in stores in the United States contains additives, which can actually make it difficult to float the cream on the coffee.


Once you’ve served drinks all around, you’ll need some traditional Irish toasts to complete the moment! Here’s a few of our favorites…

Sláinte!
This is Gaelic for “To Your Health!” If you have trouble pronouncing it, pretend it says “it’s a lawn chair”, and say it in a quick slur.

May misfortune follow you the rest of your life, but never catch up.

A toast to your coffin.
May it be made of 100 year old oak.
And may we plant the tree together, tomorrow.

Dance as if no one were watching,
Sing as if no one were listening,
And live every day as if it were your last.

May the Good Lord take a liking to you… but not too soon!

May those who love us love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.

May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.

An Irishman is never drunk as long as he can hold onto one blade of grass and not fall off the face of the earth.

May your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, and never in want.

May the roof above us never fall in.
And may the friends gathered below it never fall out.

May the grass grow long on the road to hell for want of use.

There are only two kinds of people in the world. The Irish, and those who wish they were.

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back,
The sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall softly upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.

Irish Coffee Made With Espresso
This man claims to make the best Irish Coffee in the world. I’ll leave it to you to be the judge!

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