while you were sleeping: the best Irish Coffee recipe

It’s a bittersweet memory, an odd snippet of my past, without any context, but it fills me with a strange longing, a strange belonging and it beckons. The memory is this: two teenagers, sitting on brownstone steps, hands stuffed into pockets in a desperate attempt to keep warm. Beanies pulled low, noses cold, and a cup of warm coffee in between talks of Aristotle and Schopenhauer; in between talks of fraternity pledging and plane schedules.

Those days are long gone, but every time I walk past a Starbucks, or catch a glimpse of a DC poster, my step falters and I pause a little, as the same memory overcomes me, and I remember staring up at Lincoln as white puffs of smoke erupt from my mouth. I remember hearing the crack of ice as we walked across the frozen reflecting pool and most of all, I remember the quiet laughter; the satisfaction we had wrapped in each others embrace… But none call to mind these memories more strongly than a whiff of steaming Jameson.


What you’ll need:

Jameson Irish Whiskey
Brown Sugar (sachet packs from coffee shops are the best form of measurement)
Double Espresso (or a very, very concentrated Americano)
Cold Whipping Cream (whip it on the spot, don’t buy the pre-whipped kind! Make sure it’s cold too!)
Simple syrup

A lighter/matches

Sometimes, simple is best, and the secret to this amazing irish coffee is the whipped cream.


In a glass, pour 2-3 fingers of Jameson whiskey in (I like mine 3 fingers, but that’s just me).
Add 2 sachets of brown sugar into the whiskey, or to taste.
Using a steam wand, steam the mixture until it bubbles. If you don’t have a steam wand, in a small pan, heat the mixture until it bubbles and then pour it back into the glass.

Now, for the fun part: grab your lighter, tip the glass till the whiskey barely reaches the rim of the glass. Light the whiskey on fire. Let it burn for about 2-5 seconds, or as long as you want. Just remember though, the longer it burns, the more alcohol evaporates.

Extract your espresso, or make a super concentrated Americano. Pour this shot into your whiskey.

Whipping cream: in a blender, combine a cap-full of Jameson whiskey (use the Jameson cap) with a shot of simple syrup and about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of whipping cream. Enough to cover the blender blades. Blend at the lowest setting while allowing air to enter the whipping cream.
To achieve this, what I usually do (I use a BlendTec) is to place the cover strategically over the blender so that whipped cream doesn’t fly out. Imagine: the BlendTec is square shaped when facing me, so I place the cover in a diamond shape. Does that make sense?

Blend until it’s kind of thick and gooey, as opposed to fluffy and airy.
The reason I use a blender is because I want the cream to still be thick.

Scoop out the cream and place on top of the whiskey+coffee concoction. generally, I scoop until it fills about 2cm below the rim, cause I like my irish whiskey thick. But for those who don’t, put as much or as little cream as you want.

Stir, sip and enjoy!


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