I sat at the edge of the bar, a Guinness sitting on a ripped coaster. It was 2017, in the heart of Dublin. I beckon the bartender for a coffee and to close my tab for the evening. After some time, he walks over and hands me this dark drink in with a creamy white foam atop. I merely wanted a cup of hot coffee to get me going for the walk back to my hotel on that cold evening. However, as I sipped on that Irish Coffee, the warm deliciousness was a welcome sensation. Something about the cold cream contrasting with the hot coffee that packs a punch from the whiskey. That grateful mistake was the inspiration to recreate that amazing cocktail – the Irish Coffee – and is how I began my search for this recipe.
The original recipe calls for Demerara sugar and for good reason. A less processed sugar out of British Guyana it is darker in color, but it is NOT the same as brown sugar. You can replace the demerara sugar with dark brown sugar, but the flavors will be different. Demerara sugar has a certain depth to it that the molasses covered sugar that masquerades as brown sugar cannot replace. If you can get your hands on it, I highly recommend it as it adds great depth to the cocktail.
One of the two major ingredients, is coffee. Even though this is a cocktail, you should use the best coffee that fits your taste buds. I found that South American coffee beans offer the best flavor profile and accentuate the barrel aged flavors of the whiskey. An eastern African coffee could work, but it’s fruit undertones will conflict with the oak and smokiness of the whiskey.
Invented in the 1940s, the Irish Coffee was created in a hotel off the coast of Ireland, where pilots and seamen would stop before continuing their voyage. It’s simplicity allows the flavors to melt amazingly well and bring one of the best hot cocktails you will ever drink. Smooth drinking, it’s a fantastic night cap, regardless of whether you’re caffeine sensitive or not!