This classic Irish coffee recipe comes to us via Dutch Kills, a bar in Long Island City, New York. The warm cocktail was supposedly popularized in the 1940s by Joseph Sheridan, a chef in the port city of Foynes, Ireland. In 1952, Irish coffee was introduced to San Francisco by the Buena Vista Cafe. Sheridan’s recipe went as follows: Cream – rich as an Irish brogue; Coffee – strong as a friendly hand; Sugar – sweet as the tongue of a rogue; Irish whiskey – smooth as the wit of the land.
Place 4 teaspoons of the sugar, the whiskey, espresso, and water in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Set over low heat and stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot but not boiling, about 5 minutes.
Place the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar and the cream in a medium bowl and whisk until the cream thickens and the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the hot coffee mixture to two 8-ounce heatproof glasses or mugs, top with a heaping spoonful of the whipped cream, and garnish with the mint leaves (if using). Serve immediately.