Recipe of the Week
Irish coffee
Courtesy of
Ivan Brown

Thanks to Ivan for this recipe, which we present here as it was submitted, with just a few formatting changes for the web site.

St Patrick’s Day is just round the corner (17th of March) and quite a few [BHM] readers, including myself will be absent from the Emerald Isle on that grand day. So I thought we might console ourselves with a glass or two of Irish coffee.

Shake any family tree hard enough and an Irish grandmother is bound to fall out.


Irish coffee

Makes enough for 4 large glasses

Invented in 1938 by a chef called Joe Sheridan who worked at the original Shannon Airport, Irish coffee was intended to cheer up shivering passengers who’d arrived on flying boats. According to legend the ingredients should be:

Cream – rich as an Irish brogue
Coffee – strong as a friendly hand
Sugar sweet as the tongue of a rogue
Whiskey – smooth as the wit of the land.

Even if you don’t usually take sugar in your coffee, please don’t be tempted to omit it. For some reason I haven’t quite fathomed, the little edge of sweetness is vital to a good Irish coffee.


2 ½ cups hot coffee
1 cup whipping cream
8 tablespoons Irish whiskey
8 level teaspoons caster (superfine) sugar


Making Irish coffee is all about method. Follow these instructions to the letter, and the cream-floating trick will work. Deviate at your peril!

While the kettle is boiling for the coffee, whisk the cream in a large bowl until it has just started to thicken into a soft, velvety mass. Think of the edge of a ball of ice-cream that’s been sitting in a bowl and is just on the point of melting – that’s the sort of consistency you’re aiming for. So, no peaks, not even soft ones, but definitely thicker than double cream. Transfer the cream to a good pouring jug and leave it to one side (not in the refrigerator).

Pour 2 tablespoons of Irish whiskey into each glass, then spoon 2 teaspoons of caster sugar into each one. Pour the hot coffee into the glasses to fill each about two-thirds full, perhaps a little more, and stir with a dessert spoon until the sugar has dissolved.

Now, turn the same spoon bowl-side down and position it in the middle of the glass with the tip just touching the surface of the coffee. Very gently pour the cream over the back of the spoon and miraculously you will see it slip off and float on top of the coffee. Continue pouring until the layer is as thick as your thumb. Repeat with the other glasses, then drink immediately.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Ivan Brown

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