Know your Poison: Irish coffee


A party drink the basis for a cure to strokes? It sounds like a partygoer’s dream: a chemical combination of caffeine and alcohol. But this is no recreational drug – scientists believe this medicinal version of Irish coffee could be used to treat the effects of strokes. But then what is Irish coffee…. a cure for hangovers or caffeine laced alcoholic drink? Is it for a teetotaller, newbie or alcohol aficionado? Most importantly, is it alcohol or coffee… can it give you that warm fuzzy feeling or perk you up for a night of sleeplessness?

Contrary to its ‘coffee’ tag, Irish coffee is an overwhelmingly warming and delicious after dinner drink. With each sip, the heat of the drink, coupled with the whiskey placates the self with a delectable warm glow. Caife Gaelach or Irish coffee is in actuality a cocktail which consists of good Irish whiskey, hot black coffee and sugar topped with cream. The peculiarity of this coffee is that, it is drunk through the thickness of the cream. Nowadays, whipped cream is used to top the coffee, but in the original recipe rich thick cream was used. The heady whiskey flavour, coffee aroma and appearance add to this drink’s popularity. This drink is a hit in the Irish pubs and too much of it, will make you intoxicated.

The coffee was conceived after a group of American passengers disembarked from a Pan Am flying boat on a miserable winter evening in the 1940s at Shannon International Airport in the west of Ireland. The bartender added whiskey to the coffee to warm the passengers. When asked, he told them it was Irish coffee. Today, top chefs use this drink to make hot cocktails, cakes and delicacies.

Whether planning a quiet affair, a lavish celebration, or just a cosy evening indoors as the monsoon rain lashes around, the warm coffee laced with whisky and topped with sweetened whipped cream is a special treat.