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Where Was Irish Coffee Invented? History, Facts & FAQ

where was Irish coffee invented

Irish coffee is one of the most popular and well-known drinks globally, both in the alcohol and coffee industries. It is a timeless classic that many people know about, even if they don’t drink coffee or whiskey. The Irish coffee is easy to make at home, only requiring a few ingredients. But where was Irish coffee invented, and is it really from Ireland? Let’s take a look at Irish coffee and its origins:

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The Origins of Irish Coffee

While many mistakenly claim that San Francisco is the birthplace of Irish coffee, the truth is that the first Irish coffee was originally from Ireland. Irish coffee was invented at the Little Foynes Airport, which is near Limerick, Ireland. The airport chef, Joe Sheridan, created the drink in 1943 after passengers were unable to fly due to bad weather. It grew in popularity within Ireland, and people immediately wanted to know what it was. He famously called it the Irish coffee, which is still the official name.

irish coffee
Image Credit: Jill Wellington, Pixabay

Irish Coffee and San Francisco

Although the origins of Irish coffee are from Ireland, there is a reason why many think the birthplace is San Francisco. In the 1950s, the owner of the Buena Vista decided he wanted to recreate and perfect the Irish coffee to San Francisco standards. Although the original one comes from Ireland, the San Francisco version of Irish coffee skyrocketed in popularity. After quite a bit of experimenting, the drink was successfully recreated and is still served at Buena Vista today.

What Is an Irish Coffee?

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Although it sounds quite fancy, the Irish coffee is a simple combination of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar, topped with a float of cream. The coffee passes through the cream float, so the person drinking it can taste each component. It’s important to use a high-quality whipping cream so that it stays afloat, which is how the original Irish coffee was made. While it’s not a traditional ingredient, sweetened cold foam is a possible alternative to whipped cream.

What Kind of Whiskey Is Best for Irish Coffee?

The number one rule to Irish coffee is to use real Irish whiskey! There is a good deal of Irish whiskey brands, but the most popular ones are Jameson, Knappogue Castle, and Proper 12. Using any other type of whiskey beside Irish whiskey will take away from the original recipe, which calls for real, authentic Irish whiskey. If you have Bailey’s whiskey and cream, that is also fine to use in a pinch.

Irish Coffee with Baileys
Are you wondering how to make Irish coffee? This hot coffee cocktail is easy to make and perfect for cozy winter nights. Combine hot brewed coffee with Baileys and Irish whiskey for an irresistible treat.
Try this delicious recipe!
How to make Irish coffee Ninja Coffee Bar

Featured Image Credit: Andrew Pustiakin, Shutterstock


Jaimie Wisniowski

Jaimie is a freelance writer fueled by coffee, whether it’s hot, iced, or made from a local coffee shop. She enjoys writing all things coffee, especially if it means trying the latest coffee shop trends (hello cold foam!). After spending years writing poems, college essays, and short stories, it only a matter of time to turn writing into a career. Writing about coffee simply combined two of her favorite things! When she’s not drinking coffee by the minute and writing at her laptop, Jaimie spends time hiking, exercising, and living an active life. She also loves to snuggle up with a good book and her dog, Margo. If you catch her without a cup of coffee, she’s probably on her way to the coffee maker now.

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