January 25 is National Irish Coffee Day. It should be a national holiday. I really enjoy Irish coffee, served mostly this time of year and right up through St. Patty’s Day; I like it to warm up and as a grand finish to a great meal, especially when the winter weather is at its peak.

My favorite is Jameson, coffee, whipped cream and topped with Crème de Menthe (the green stuff). Some people like Bushmills Irish Whiskey, some like Tullamore Dew or Powers Irish whiskey; it depends on your taste.

The choice of whiskey also had a great deal to do with what part of Ireland your ancestors are from. If you were from Northern Ireland which back in the day was predominately Protestant faith, they drank Bushmills. If your ancestors were from southern Ireland, predominately Catholic faith, they drank Jameson, which by the way was founded in the 1700s by a Scottish gentleman by the name of John Jameson. Both companies are now owned and operated by French and English companies.

The Irish coffee as we know it now, according to historians, was invented by bartender Joe Sheridan who worked in Ireland in county Limerick at the Flying Boat Terminal at Foynes. He created the hot drink as an answer to the Italian Espresso and Cappuccino.

The Buena Vista - Google Maps
The Buena Vista - Google Maps

Sheridan moved to San Francisco in 1951 and brought his recipe to the new bar he was working at, The Buena Vista, down on the wharf in San Francisco. It’s a big destination of tourists and the Buena Vista wants to move you through which is a shame because it has the atmosphere that I enjoy, an old worn bar with the bartenders in long aprons making them as fast as a rivet machine at the Ford plant. I’ve been to The Buena Vista a few times. They’re served in a small glass so be careful, they go down pretty quick and often and once you settle in, they’ll go down very fast.

Next time you order an Irish coffee, take the time to raise your glass to Joe Sheridan and thank him for bringing his Irish drink to us.

Where to enjoy on in New Jersey? Here are some of my favorite local places to get an Irish Coffee. Try the Celtic Cottage in Long Branch; they keep it simple and just the way I like it. Kelly’s Tavern in Neptune does a great job. The Coffee is good and they know what they are doing. St Stephens Green Publik House in Spring Lake they do a great job and take the Irish Coffee serious. McDonagh’s Pub in Keyport does a good job; one bartender said the coffee was hanging out too long so she made a new pot. I love that attention to detail. Check out the Dublin House in Red Bank, Irish authentic and a great place to enjoy an Irish coffee. I’ve been to the Kilkenny House in Cranford and the Irish coffee was excellent. One of my favorite places used to be Briody’s in Rumson, now gone; they got the memo how to pour a good Irish. I’m sure there are more that I am missing but this should get you started.

Or just make your own at home. Here's how I make a great Irish Coffee:

In a medium sized bowl add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 cup of really cold heavy cream. With a whisk, gently stir to dissolve the sugar then whisk quickly until you reach stiff peaks.

In a mug add 10 oz. of your favorite coffee. Now add a shot (or two) of your favorite Irish whiskey, for me I like Jameson. Finish with a dollop of your homemade whipped cream and few drops of Crème de Menthe or a couple shavings of quality chocolate. Say a toast and enjoy with some great friends, family, or strangers. Sláinte!

Note: Many people add brown sugar, Bailey’s or other ingredients. I prefer it simple. The coffee is good, the whiskey is better and the whipped cream and Crème de Menthe are the finishing touches.

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