Since it’s creation in the 1940’s, the Irish coffee has become a mainstay in bars across the world, it’s beginnings however are heavily contested so I went digging to find out for myself.
After taking a trip to visit Foynes museum about 4 years ago, I came away convinced that Joe Sheridan, former head chef in the Foynes air base terminal was in fact the original creator of the Irish Coffee. My conclusions came in large part after a very intense history lessons by the museum’s general manager Margaret O’Shaughnessy. The story goes…
In 1943, the Foynes terminal building welcomed a new restaurant and café. Joe Sheridan, a chef from Northern Ireland, was chosen to oversee the kitchen operations. During the winter of the same year, a flight bound for New York City had to turn back due to severe weather conditions. Morse messages were sent, and the staff at Foynes were called back to assist the stranded passengers. It was during this time that Joe Sheridan seized the opportunity to introduce his new creation. The drink was served to each passenger and was incredibly well-received.
After the closure of Foynes in 1946, Sheridan continued to popularize the drink at Shannon airport, where he had relocated to work. The Irish coffee gained recognition when a travel writer, who happened to taste it, brought it to San Francisco. Stanton Delaplane, the writer, was so impressed that he approached his friend Jack Koeppler, the owner of The Buena Vista Café in San Francisco, to include the drink on the menu. However, it was not an easy task, and instead of giving up, Jack offered Joe Sheridan the chance to pursue the American dream. Accepting the offer, Sheridan packed his belongings and embarked on a journey to the land of opportunity. He introduced the famous Irish coffee at The Buena Vista, where it is still produced in large quantities today, making it an iconic establishment.
Now that’s we’ve cover the beginnings of what is in my opinion the perfect hot cocktail the question is where can you get the best one in Ireland. My personal favourite is O’Lochlainns Bar in Ballyvaghan, Co. Clare. They serve the most amazing Irish Coffee, where the cream literally couldn’t be fresher – They’ve cut out the middle (milk) man and source the cream from their dairy herd behind the bar.
Honorable mentions for the best Irish Coffee in Ireland include in no particular order;
- MP Walsh, Galway
- Shelbourne Bar, Cork
- Dylan Bar, Kilkenny
- Garrick Bar, Belfast
- Slane Distillery, Meath.