Articles From Whole Latte Love

Legend of the Irish Coffee

Posted: 03/14/13

Irish CoffeeSt. Patrick's Day is here; may the luck...and drinks, of the Irish be with you. Given the current festivities, now is as good a time as any to take a look at the history of one of the most (in)famous, drinks in the world—the Irish Coffee.

In true Celtic fashion, think Leprechauns and pots of gold, the origins of the Irish Coffee begin with local folklore... Legend has it that the drink was invented in a cafe at the now-defunct Foynes Airport. In 1943, on a particularly nasty winter evening, a flight bound for Botwood, Newfoundland made the critical decision to return to Foynes after several hours in the air. Consider that 1943 was during WWII and commercial air travel was really in its infancy, catering to well-heeled men and women interested in "flying-boat" voyages. The circumstances of the diverted flight were trying at best and left passengers a little bit more than peeved.

Upon making the decision to head back to Foynes, the captain reportedly sent a Morse-code message to the control tower, alerting ground operations personnel of the impending return. At the terminal, preparations were made to welcome back the crew and passengers.

Irish CoffeeHead chef Joe Sheridan of the airport restaurant was hastily asked to make something to warm the passengers and lift their spirits. He decided to...well...add a little spirit to their drinks. After all what could keep you warmer and happier than a hot coffee and some good old Irish whiskey? As the night progressed and everybody had been served, one of the passengers approached Sheridan to thank him for the hospitality. Making small talk, the passenger asked if Brazilian coffee had been used to prepare the drink...To which Sheridan responded "No, that was Irish Coffee." The rest is history.

From that night forward, Irish Coffee was served to all passengers going through Foynes Airport. The tradition continues to this day; dignitaries arriving at Shannon Airport are still welcomed with a warm cup of Irish Coffee. Want to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in style? Here's our take on Joe Sheridan's Irish Coffee Recipe:

Irish Coffee

  • 1 shot of Irish Whiskey
  • 5 oz freshly brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspooon of brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh whipping cream or double cream
  • Creme de Menthe (to garnish)

Preheat an Irish Coffee Mug using hot water. Try our Pedestal version of the mug. Pour freshly brewed coffee into the mug; add sugar and whiskey. Top with cream.