Why is it called Irish Coffee?

Answered by Stephen Mosley

The name “Irish Coffee” is derived from the fact that it was originally created in Ireland. The drink was first made by Joe Sheridan, a chef at the Foynes airport near Limerick. It is said that he came up with the idea on a cold and rainy winter night when a flight bound for New York had to turn back due to bad weather. The weary and disappointed passengers were brought back to the airport, and Joe Sheridan wanted to offer them something warm and comforting to lift their spirits.

In order to create this comforting beverage, Joe Sheridan combined hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and topped it off with a generous dollop of whipped cream. The combination of strong coffee and smooth whiskey, along with the sweetness of the sugar and richness of the cream, created a delightful and indulgent drink. It quickly became a favorite among the passengers, who were grateful for the warmth and taste of this new creation.

As the story goes, one of the passengers asked Joe Sheridan if he was drinking Brazilian coffee. To this, Joe Sheridan jokingly replied, “it’s Irish coffee!” And thus, the name “Irish Coffee” was born. The name stuck and became synonymous with this delicious blend of coffee, whiskey, sugar, and cream.

The popularity of Irish Coffee continued to grow, and it eventually made its way to the United States. The Buena Vista Café in San Francisco played a significant role in popularizing the drink in America. The owner of the café, Jack Koeppler, was so enchanted by Irish Coffee that he decided to recreate it in his establishment. However, he faced a challenge in getting the cream to float on top of the hot coffee. After much experimentation, he discovered that by slightly whipping the cream, it would float perfectly on the coffee, creating the signature layered look of Irish Coffee.

Today, Irish Coffee is enjoyed around the world, not only for its delicious taste but also for the warmth and comfort it brings. It has become a staple in Irish culture and is often served as a welcoming gesture to visitors. Whether enjoyed on a cold winter’s night or as a special treat, Irish Coffee continues to be a beloved beverage that pays homage to its Irish roots.