After a few weeks of unseasonably warm weather, we’re now back to the bay area standard wind, rain, and cold, which also happens to be perfect Irish Coffee weather. Drinking Irish Coffee always reminds me of traveling in Eastern Europe one January a few years back. Nearly every day we’d spend some time warming up in a cafe with an Irish Coffee or two.
* 1 raw sugar cube
* 1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
* 4 ounces coffee
* Fresh, unsweetened whipped cream
Pour the whiskey over the sugar in a stemmed Irish coffee glass and top with coffee. Ladle one inch of cream on top. Use 1 teaspoon of raw sugar if you don’t have cubes.
Irish Coffee is a surprisingly difficult drink to get right. With only a few basic ingredients it’s not a difficult drink to make, but it’s easy to make them badly, and ending up with something much too sweet or that’s basically a cup of coffee flavored with a bit of whiskey.
There is a tendency for some bartenders to drown the drink in coffee by serving it in a large mug. Dale DeGroff stresses the importance of this by recommending that they only be served in proper glasses which, due to their size, force you to use the correct amount. The classic Irish Coffee mug pictured is eight ounces and the perfect size.
The sweetness problem is caused by using canned whipped cream as a topping instead of whipping your own unsweetened cream. This drink already has sugar in it; adding sweetened cream on top gives it a sickly sweetness that completely throws off the taste of the whiskey and coffee. The cream should be fresh and lightly whipped so that it isn’t quite stiff; it should be easy to pour or spoon onto the coffee.
A favorite variant of mind is the Kioke Coffee, which uses brandy and Kahlua instead of whiskey. Be sure to omit the sugar as well, as the Kahlua is plenty sweet enough on its own. I use one ounce of brandy to 1/2 ounce Kahlua when making these. Or keep the sugar and skip the Kahlua; brandy makes a fine coffee drink on its own.