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The Original Irish Coffee

There are a number of Irish Coffee recipes available on the web and elsewhere. Most of them are close to the original, but I have yet to see one in its true authenticity. What makes me such an expert? A branch of my family invented this wonderful mix of black coffee, Irish whiskey and cream which was always intended to resemble a glass of Guinness. It was created by my distant relative Joe Sheridan in the earlier part of the last century while he was employed as a steward at Shannon Airport, Ireland. He would have been an uncle some four times removed.

These days there are special glasses made for serving it, and there is even a commercial version called Sheridan's which I like to think was named in his honour. This is the original, traditional, mix as passed on to me through my part of the family: Put one teaspoon of demerara sugar in the bottom of a stemmed glass that is large enough to hold a cup of coffee. Add a measure of Irish whiskey, which could be Paddy, Bushmills or Jamesons. The original is believed to have been Paddy from the County Cork distillery. Pour in one cup of hot coffee, over the back of a spoon to avoid ending up with a cracked glass, and stir.

Now cool the spoon (or use a fresh one) and pour enough very cold double (heavy) cream over the back of it to come to the top of the glass. Do this carefully and you will have crystal clear coffee topped with ice cool cream. Do not whip the cream, simply stir it a little, or shake the carton before opening, to ensure it pours evenly. The effect will be just as if you had Guinness in your glass. Serve it with pride, it has a long and honorable tradition behind it.

Michael Sheridan is a published writer and recognized authority on cooking matters. A former head chef, he runs several websites on cooking, including http://www.thecoolcook.com



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