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Bartender Re-education: The Irish Coffee
Every coffee+booze cocktail is a piece of shit except this one. Spanish coffee? Fuck that drink. Bailey’s and coffee? Look granny, you could have had that at home. Every coffee cocktail up until the Irish Coffee was just a way to get a girl just drunk enough on sweet stuff so that you can get to bone town.
But the Irish Coffee is too classy for such skulduggery.
This month’s Bartender Re-education is the Irish Coffee and it has 3 ingredients. If you are served an Irish Coffee with a 4th ingredient you are beginning to slide down a slope in to the valley of Ben & Jerry’s flavored coffee. Specifically, don’t you dare drizzle creme de menthe over canned whipped cream. And while we are at it, don’t ever use canned whipped cream.
The Irish Coffee is as simple as 1,2,3,4
- 1 pre-heat the mug, don’t ever put a hot drink into a cold mug
- 2 sweet Irish whisky, the only other sugar will come from the whipped cream
- 3 fresh whipped cream, add sugar to taste, use a whisk or a hand blender
- 4 very strong coffee, it need to stand up to the whiskey
Follow the steps in that order, you don’t have to stir or shake anything.
And then you are done. Don’t add anything else. You’ll find this very simple combination to have the perfect balance. So perfect, that when coffee is brewed poorly (too acidic) the sugar balances it even better. Dare I say the best Irish coffee you could have would be made with some truck-stop-been-on-the-burner-all-day-sludgy-cup-o-joe.
Another great thing about the Irish Coffee is that the best way to get it is on the go. And how does one do that? Repeat after me:
“Hello barista, I’ll have a double 8oz americano with whip please.”
Then you dump an airline bottle of Jameson right in the cup and you are ready to face the day.
But if you want to bypass this coffee jazz and skip to straight Irish Whiskey, read this post I wrote about how to drink during St Patrick’s week.
The Irish coffee will be treated differently than the other drinks on the Cocktail Advent Calendar. Almost every other cocktail that we’ve worked with this month we’ve dressed up. We’ve taken a classic not very good cocktail, substituted good ingredients, added a bit of care, and voilà – a much better cocktail. This is not the case for the Irish coffee, this classic will be made exactly the way it’s supposed to be made, because it’s a perfect cocktail.
The original Irish coffee had no Bailey’s, it had no brown sugar, and it had no whipped cream topped with green crème de menthe. The best way to enjoy this cocktail is perfectly as it is written on paper. The only thing to keep in mind that is not written on the original recipe is that when you’re making coffee cocktails it very much helps to make the coffee extra strong and pre-heating the vessel that the cocktail will be poured into is essential. Last month I was in San Francisco at the Gold Dust in Union Square. The legendary $3.50 Irish coffees are served there. People have told me throughout the years that they just want to go there and drink them all day. I never understood why until I had one at 10 in the morning. Being in a dark bar when it’s bright outside, where people are selling rude stories and nude cherubic women are painted on the ceiling is the perfect place to enjoy an Irish coffee.
- 1.5 ounces Irish whiskey
- 4 ounces very strong black coffee
- 2 ounces lightly sweetened whipped cream
There’s a certain type of “drunk in a bar when you’re not supposed to be” aspect to the Irish coffee that I think lends itself to listening to the rat pack. Auld lang syne, by Frank Sinatra I think is the perfect listening choice for drinking an old-style cocktail made just right.
Hope you wait til the end for the good joke
Because of today’s Cocktail Advent Calendar, let December 4th forever be known as the Day of International Spanish Coffee. DISC = December 4th. I’m not a stupid bartender, I know that it is a total rookie move to prepare just *one* Spanish Coffee, make *one* and you’ll be making them all night. To admit you can make *one* is a commitment to keep going until you run out of coffee. One time this ass-face said, “Can’t you go out and get more coffee?”
I squinted at that fucker with my best Eastwood, and after I let my pupils sear his flesh for a second, I said,
But not today. Today, it’s Spanish Coffee Amnesty Day — all day. Hooray! The drink that is an under-appreciated pain in the ass will have its day of glory. Anu and Zach, with ear to ear smiles, shall craft you one of the most labor intensive, on fire, smoothing and luxurious cocktails one could ever hope to quaff. Rather than explain this cocktail, I would like to explain what will be special about ours.
- Stumptown Hairbender Coffee – Great fresh roasted coffee beans brewed to perfection.
- Fresh Whipped Cream – Much like chicken soup, with whipped cream, you can’t get love from a can.
- Lemon Hart 151 Rum – Ed Hamilton might be proud, or angry, but no bullshit lighter fluid rum to toast our Spanish Coffee, only the finest demerara put to great use.
- FIRE! – Like Homer (Simpson, not the guy who wrote the Odyssey) said, “Fire makes it good.”
- Fresh Ground Spices – Not from the 128 spice rack we got on sale at Target.
- Caramel Rim – We’re not afraid of spending all day cleaning glassware, we’re going to give you a honest to goodness ring of sugar fused to the glass using the Maillard reaction.
Shooting over to Ed’s site reminded me of the 7 daily toasts the British Royal Navy. They are a hit or miss blend of misogynistic what nots, but Sunday’s is good. It’s a toast to “Absent Friends.” A solid toast for gathering with your friends over a Spanish Coffee or two. But only if you really need two, have a cellar-temp Porter, or finish up your crossword puzzle while you wait.
- .5oz Lemon Hart 151 lit aflame inside
- 1 sugar rimmed glass
- A few sparkly sprinkles of cinnamon
- .5oz Kahlua
- .25 oz Cointreau
- Top with Fresh Whipping Cream, (because it’s better)
- Garnish with Nutmeg and an Oranger Zest
“to absent friends
to those we have met
to those we have yet to meet
to those who have left us for a while
and to those who have left us forever
let us lift our glasses
and drink a toast
that they may abide in our hearts
to absent friends”