Photo: Fernando.S, Flickr
At least, as the legend goes, some weary American travelers thought so in 1952, when a bartender in the Shannon Airport whipped up the concoction to warm them after a hard day of difficult wintertime flight. The drink allegedly made its way back stateside through San Francisco's Buena Vista Cafe, which still touts it as a specialty of the house.
For starters, the coffee's got to be good. Don't bother ordering one at your run-of-the-mill faux-Irish corner pub -- stick to eateries and bars that you know pride themselves on good coffee. Second, if you're going green for the holiday, you may as well specifically ask for an Irish whiskey -- I go for Powers, but Bushmills also fits the bill. (Of course, what happens outside of St. Patrick's Day stays outside of St. Patrick's Day...)
But what makes the perfect Irish coffee? Read on after the jump to find out. Purists will tell you that the sugar (and go light on it, please) needs to be fully dissolved into the fresh, hot coffee before adding the cream, or it will sink sadly to the bottom of the mug. And if that cream comes from a charger, it's cheating -- true Irish coffee is topped with thicker, smoother hand-whipped or simply poured heavy cream, preferably of the unsweetened variety. Anything else, and you'll need more luck than any four-leaf clover can provide.
Have you ever had a perfect Irish coffee? Tell us about it in the comments.
Erin Meister trains baristas for North Carolina-based Counter Culture Coffee and sporadically maintains the blog Meet the Press Pot from her home in New York City. This is part of a series for the caffeine-addicted.