St Patrick’s Day has become a day synonymous with celebration - this tradition began as a feast day, held in honour of the anniversary of the day St Patrick died and Christians were allowed to forgo the self-imposed restrictions on food and alcohol from Lent on this day. Because the Irish are Irish (and the British are British), excessive drinking became the order of the day. What’s the perfect thing to start off your St Paddy’s Day celebrations though? Your morning coffee, done the Irish way.
The story goes that the Irish Coffee was invented in the old Foynes Flying Boat Airport in 1942 when a transatlantic plane had to turn back because of bad weather and Irish Barman Joe Sheridan came up with the cocktail to soothe and revive the spirit - and if that’s the case, you’ll probably want one the morning after St Patrick’s as well. Deliciously decadent, it’s a hard drink to perfect but the coffee has to be strong and the whiskey has to be Irish.
Let’s start with the glass. Your Irish Coffee should be served in a stemmed, tulip-shaped glass. This shape prevents an over-sized coffee serve and keeps the balance of the ingredients whilst showcasing the beauty of the layers of the drink. Dead Rabbit’s Jack McGarry (and arguably one of the world’s leading Irish Coffee experts) attributes the key to making a great hot drink being in the temperature so make sure you preheat your glass with hot water.
Next, choose the sugar. History states plain sugar cubes which allow precise measurement and the cane sugar dissolves quickly and efficiently, but a Demerara syrup brings a caramel depth to the drink - try both and pick your favourite. On to the Whiskey - we’re enjoying ours with The Dubliner. A subtly spicy tasty to temper the sweetness of the sugar with underlying flavours of honey and a smooth caramel finish - we think it’s the perfect addition to this indulgent drink. When you come to choosing your coffee - be sure to counteract the coldness of the cream by keeping your it hot and fresh, one of life’s great pleasures is a piping-hot coffee drunk through a chilled layer of perfectly whipped cream. Avoid espresso-style, exotic blends or strong roasts - the coffee is a complement to the drink, delicately balanced flavours but not standing out.
Finally, the make or break moment - the cream. Perfectly frothy cream should be pourable and not too thick, but also not too thin - it shouldn’t be scooped out, and it shouldn’t dribble out of your jug. And it absolutely shouldn’t come from a can. Hand-whip heavy whipping cream so that it is lightly aerated, light enough to sit on top of the coffee/whiskey - this bit takes practice, but once you crack it, you’ll be winning. Pour your cream over the back of a warm teaspoon, this will slow it down and help it sit comfortably.