IWSA Coffee - An Irish Whiskey Cocktail

Posted by Irish Whiskey USA on

Irish Coffee might be the most popular and well known drink featuring Irish whiskey. It is how many people are introduced to Irish whiskey before venturing into other cocktails or the various brands and styles. The drink has a storied history and has spawned many variations over the years.

As the story goes, Joe Sheridan, the chef at Foynes airport near Limerick, invented the drink in 1943 for travelers delayed due to winter weather. It became extremely popular during WWII for transatlantic travelers passing through what was at the time one of Europe's busier airports. The drink was later recreated in the USA after the war in 1952 at the San Francisco Buena Vista Cafe with the help of the inventor himself.

The drink requires several key ingredients: strong coffee, heavy whipped cream, and of course Irish whiskey. Preparation is not overly complicated. 

Presentation is important and made easier by the proper glassware (IWSA coffee glasses work nicely!) The IWSA recipe is below:


  • 5 oz very hot coffee
  • 1 1/2 oz sherry cask finish Irish whiskey* 
  • *(higher abv 46% advised like McConnells Sherry or Redbreast Lustau)
  • 3/4 oz heavy cream (whipped)
  • 1/4 oz Baileys Salted Caramel liqueur
  • 1 tsp Brown Sugar
  • Nutmeg (optional garnish)


  • Irish Coffee Glass (8 oz. size) 
  • Jigger or Shot Measuring Glass                                               
  • Small Bowl or Cup for Whipping Cream 


    Combine the heavy cream and Baileys Salted Caramel into the bowl/cup. Stir or whip for 20 seconds. 

    Warm the glass with hot water then empty. Add brown sugar, Irish Whiskey, and Coffee to glass. Layer the cream on top. Garnish with nutmeg.


    The IWSA recipe calls for less sugar than the standard variety. Use of sherry finish Irish whiskey and cream enhanced with Baileys Salted Caramel provides additional layers of sweetness to replace the lower sugar content.  

    The balance of the ingredients is important. Adding more/less coffee or whiskey may throw off the proportional balance. The IWSA proportions call for a 46% abv Irish whiskey. Using a lower proof sherry whiskey (e.g. Bushmills Black Bush @40% abv) would likely require less coffee and/or more whiskey.  Experiment to your own taste. Sláinte

    For additional history on the creation of the Irish Coffee and an interview from the Dead Rabbit pub in New York city, check out this article from Vinepair.



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