The Irish coffee is a hot drink made with whiskey, espresso, and sugar. It is traditionally served in a glass mug with cream on top. From its humble beginnings in a small village on the west coast of Ireland to its popularisation around the world, the Irish Coffee is an iconic drink with a fascinating history. In this article, explore the origins of this beloved beverage and learn how it became the iconic tipple it is today.


The Irish coffee was invented by Joe Sheridan, a chef who worked the at an old terminal building at Foyne’s Air Base, situated on the banks of the River Shannon, Limerick, Ireland. During the 1930’s and 40’s, and subsequently during World War II, Foynes was one of the busiest airports in Europe. Being the most westerly point on the continent that could accommodate the ever-popular seaplanes of the period, Foynes served as the last port of call before the bumpy, long flight across the Atlantic. 

In the winter of 1943, a group of American passengers disembarked from a Pan Am flight that had been forced to land at the airport due to bad weather. The passengers were cold and tired, so chef Joe Sheridan decided to make the bedgraggled group a special coffee. He mixed together coffee, sugar, and whiskey, and topped it off with cream. The passengers loved it and requested that Sheridan make them more. The Irish coffee quickly became a popular drink at the airport and was soon being served on all flights departing from Foynes. 

Here is Chef Joe Sheridan serving Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller his gift to the world – the Irish Coffee.

The Irish coffee was introduced to the United States in 1952 by Stanton Delaplane, a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Delaplane tasted the drink while transiting through Rineanna, or what’s known today as Shannon Airport. He was so impressed that he brought the recipe back to America. The first Irish coffee served in the United States was at the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco, however this was only after Sheridan was offered a position there by management after they couldn’t quite get the cream right! 

The Buena Vista serves around 2,000 Irish Coffees a every day!

The delectable delight has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1940s. It’s now an international favorite, with people from all over the world enjoying its warm and inviting taste. Even though the recipe is relatively simple, there are still many variations to be explored. Whether you enjoy it as an after-dinner treat or just to get warmed up on a chilly day, The Irish coffee will always have a special place in our minds, hearts and stomachs!