Irish coffee (Irish: Caife Gaelach) is a cocktail consisting of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar, stirred, and topped with thick cream. The coffee is drunk through the cream. The original recipe explicitly uses cream that has not been whipped, although whipped cream is often used. Irish coffee may be considered a variation on the hot toddy.
Black coffee is poured into the mug. Whiskey and at least one level teaspoon of sugar is stirred in until fully dissolved. The sugar is essential for floating liquid cream on top. Thick cream is carefully poured over the back of a spoon initially held just above the surface of the coffee and gradually raised a little. The layer of cream will float on the coffee without mixing. The coffee is drunk through the layer of cream. To ensure the integrity of the ingredients of Irish Coffee, NSAI, Ireland's national standards body published an Irish Standard, I.S. 417 Irish Coffee in 1988.
The origin of the Irish coffee is highly disputed. According to certain sources the original Irish coffee was invented by Joseph Sheridan, a head chef at Foynes, County Limerick but originally from Castlederg, County Tyrone. Foynes' port was the precursor to Shannon International Airport in the west of Ireland; the coffee was conceived after a group of American passengers disembarked from a Pan American World Airways flying boat on a miserable winter evening in the 1940s. Sheridan added whiskey to the coffee to warm the passengers. After the passengers asked if they were being served Brazilian coffee, Sheridan told them it was Irish coffee. A travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, brought Irish coffee to the United States after drinking it at Shannon Airport, when he worked with the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco to start serving it on November 10, 1952.