National Irish Coffee Day is celebrated on January 25, and we think that it’s the perfect occasion to warm yourself up with a tasty, boozy treat. We don’t know about you, but nothing puts quite as much pep in our step as indulging in the two-for-one punch of Irish coffee. Although there are certainly a few different variations out there, Irish coffee traditionally consists of black coffee, whiskey, sugar, and whipped cream.
History of National Irish Coffee Day
The Irish Coffee was created in the winter of 1943 by Joe Sheridan, a humble chef at Foynes Port near Limerick, Ireland. The village of Foynes was an airbase for transatlantic flights at the time, often being the landing spot of many prominent figures and celebrities, normally as a layover and refuel spot for longer flights. Passengers would often need to spend the night in Foynes and a hub of new accommodation, bars, and restaurants was created to service the travelers.
One day, after a plane abandoned its trip and turned back to Foynes, Joe whipped up something to help the passengers forget about the cold and their disappointment. Legend has it that everyone drank their drinks in total silence, savoring the unique taste as it passed through their lips. One person eventually spoke up, asking Joe if they were drinking Brazilian coffee, to which he heartily replied “No, that’s Irish Coffee.”
Irish Coffee became a huge success and an airport specialty. Irish Coffee was introduced to the United States in 1952 by travel writer Stanton Delaplane. He brought it to the attention of Jack Koeppler, a bartender at the Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco, and persuaded him to recreate it.
National Irish Coffee Day timeline
The Buena Vista's busiest day
The Buena Vista, the San Francisco pub where Irish coffee made its U.S.debut, had its busiest day ever thanks to the 49ers playing in the Super Bowl.
- November 10, 1952
Irish coffee made it to the U.S.
Joe Sheridan brought the recipe for his specialty Irish coffee with him when he started to work in San Francisco.
Irish coffee was invented
Chef and bartender Joe Sheridan served airplane passengers the first-ever Irish coffee.
Coffee Cocktails become mainstream
The cocktail menu in Viennese cafés started to include many variations of coffee and spirit mixes.
National Irish Coffee Day FAQs
How do I make an Irish coffee for National Irish Coffee Day?
Pour sugar and coffee in a heat-proof glass and stir until dissolved, then stir in the whiskey. Float the cream on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon over the glass to create a nice layer. Enjoy!
Are there any sales for National Irish Coffee Day?
Look up your favorite pubs online and see if they have offers on for this delicious drink on its special day. Drink responsibly and have a great time!
Which kind of Whiskey should I use to make one?
There is no question about it, Irish coffee should be made with an authentic Irish Whiskey. Choose something in the mid-range with a mild, sweet finish to complement the strong coffee flavor. Pro-tip, look over for whiskey brands that are spelled with “e”, as that is the original Irish spelling.
National Irish Coffee Day Activities
Pour yourself a big cup of Irish coffee
It's hard to think of a better way to celebrate National Irish Coffee Day than by indulging in a giant cup of Irish-y coffee goodness. Kick back, relax, and savor the flavor.
Try out different whiskeys
Whiskey preferences can vary from person to person. In order to find the combination of Irish coffee ingredients that best suit you, some trial and error is necessary. You won’t hear us complaining about that.
Visit the motherland
What better way to honor Irish coffee than by making a trip to Ireland. Indulge in some whiskey and coffee while gazing over the picturesque countryside. Maybe a couple of pints of Guinness could accompany your Irish coffee. Just a thought.
5 Facts About Irish Coffee
The original Irish coffee recipe says to use cream that has not been whipped.
There is an Irish Coffee Festival
The village of Foynes in Ireland holds an annual Irish Coffee Festival.
Buena Vista Cafe made the largest
The bar entered the Guinness Record for making the largest Irish Coffee at 15 gallons.
There is a Standard
The National Standards Authority of Ireland published the Irish Standard I.S. 417: Irish Coffee.
Bailey is a non-traditional, but delicious ingredient
Irish Cream is usually used as a substitute for whiskey and cream.
Why We Love National Irish Coffee Day
Irish coffee is a great drink all year round
Sure, there's something extremely satisfying about sipping a hot Irish coffee during the cold winter months, but it's also a great tipple during the warmer months too. We don't know about you, but we drink coffee throughout the year — the addition of whiskey, sugar, and whipped cream are welcome, what’s not to like?
It's not difficult to make
There are some cocktails out there that seem to have a never-ending recipe list and/or way too many steps. Not Irish coffee, though. Almost anyone can make it. Just pour some whiskey into a mug with coffee, spoon in a little bit of sugar, and top it all off with a hefty dollop of whipped cream.
Irish coffee has some health benefits
Whilst all alcohol should be drunk in moderation, some tests have shown that the occasional cup of Irish coffee can help reduce the risk of certain diseases.
National Irish Coffee Day dates