Looking for a unique Christmas gift? We have a wide selection of Irish and Celtic gifts as well as US products. Start your Christmas gift search here.

McWooly the Irish Beanie Babie Bear
Irish Beanie Babies


Looking for Irish recipes? Try our Irish recipe index. Don't miss the Braised Cabbage, Irish Stew and Boxty recipes.



A Shot in the Dark: The Story of Irish Coffee

There are two primary origin stories surrounding Irish coffee — that delectable concoction consisting of Irish whiskey, sugar, coffee, and a sizable floater of cream.

Here's the one that isn't true, but persisted for some time and in the process became something of an insult to Irish people everywhere. This story claimed that Irish coffee was invented in the States on November 10, 1952, by Jack Koeppler, then-owner of the Buena Vista Cafe in the city of San Francisco, and travel writer Stanton Delaplane. Horsefeathers and hornswaggle, we say! Their concoction was only America's first cup of Irish coffee.

Any Celtic worth his salt knows that Irish coffee was actually invented by Joseph Sheridan, the head chef of a catering service in Foynes, County Limerick. From 1939 through 1945, incoming flights from America landed at Shannon Airport after an 18-hour ordeal aboard a wet and frigid flying boat. Upon arrival, the passengers were chilled to the bone, and Brendan O'Regan, the manager of the Foynes catering service, suggested a new drink idea to Joseph Sheridan.

O'Regan felt strongly that the passengers might appreciate some added fortification and warmth in the hot coffee or tea they received upon arrival in Ireland, so Sheridan concocted a delicious coffee drink designed to be the perfect host for a shot of Irish whiskey. Visitors to Shannon Airport, its birthplace, can today view a plaque commemorating the invention of Irish coffee; the existence of this coffee drink has directly led to the consumption of millions of shots of Irish whiskey worldwide. [Editor's Note: To the credit of the Americans, the Buena Vista Café now acknowledges that Koeppler and Delaplane did not invent Irish coffee, they were just trying to duplicate the delicious drink they enjoyed at Shannon Airport.]

One thing both the Americans and Irish agree on — just any kind of cream won't do as a topper for Irish coffee. American cream is particularly unsuitable for this purpose. The goal is to create a frothy collar of cream that stays in one piece on top of the coffee, rather than sinking into the coffee and disappearing. While Irish cream is delivered and consumed daily, American cream contains preservative agents that give it a longer shelf life, but also prevent it from remaining on top of the coffee. The proprietors of the Buena Vista Café, who serve hundreds and hundreds of Irish coffees daily, have solved the problem by ordering cream directly from a dairy, prepared to their own specifications; the Buena Vista's custom cream is aged for 48 hours and can easily be whipped to a perfect, stable froth.