The Dead Rabbit's Irish Coffee
A stormy night in 1942, a flying boat pilot's decision to abandon his journey, and a young Irish chef and a travel writer from San Francisco conspired to deliver a deliciously creamy mug of spiked java beloved around the world. While the original Irish coffee is still served in the place that made it famous, the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco, it is The Dead Rabbit in NYC that arguably serves the world's best concoction. No wonder: its owners are Irish immigrants dead set on discovering the secrets to making perfect cocktails. Like nearly all simple and successful recipes, this one relies on quality ingredients. The cream should be as fresh and local as possible--cold and whipped just before floating it over the back of a spoon and into the coffee. Only a high quality Irish whiskey such as Jameson, Clontarf, or Powers Signature and coffee made with a French press will insure results similar to those served in this lower Manhattan imbibing institution. Much of the enjoyment comes from sipping and sharing mugs of the boozy coffee through a stream of cold spiced cream in good company. Bottoms up!
Note bene: Serve in absinthe glasses, traditional Waterford Irish Coffee Mugs, or even glass Ball jars for canning. Warm all glasses with hot water for 30 seconds before pouring coffee into them. Beware of bottled Demarara sugar, it may not have the depth of flavor of homemade. The cream should be just barely whipped and still pourable--if it must be scooped, it is too thick. Do not be tempted to stir the cream into the coffee.
1 1/2 ounces Jameson original blended Irish whiskey
4 ounces freshly brewed coffee
2 cups Demarara sugar
Fresh, barely whipped cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
- To make the Demarara syrup, blend two cups sugar with one cup boiling water. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool and store in the refrigerator until needed.
- Pour 4 ounces of freshly brewed coffee (preferably made with a French press) into a glass.
- Add 1/2 ounce of the Demerara syrup and stir.
- Add 1 1/2 ounces of Irish whiskey.
- Gently pour a thin layer of whipped cream from a small pitcher over the back of a spoon and float the cream over the coffee.
- Use a microplane to grate nutmeg directly over the cream. Serve immediately.