How to Make The Dead Rabbit's Irish Coffee

According to Jack McGarry, bartender extraordinaire, the key to real belly-warming Irish coffee is a hot brew, ultra-fresh cream and good-quality aged Irish whiskey.

Jack McGarry's Real Irish Coffee

Irish coffee gets a bad rap, says Jack McGarry, bartender extraordinaire and co-author of the hypnotic cocktail guide The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual. And it's partly deserved: "Too many people use old, bitter coffee." His secret? A fresh brew, of course — and also ultra-fresh cream and a good aged Irish whiskey. Here's how he makes his bar's signature drink.


Photography by Heather Ramsdell

Shake It Up

"The cream can make or break the drink," says McGarry. Avoid the canned stuff, and try to pick up a pint at a farmers market or gourmet market if you can. And keep it very cold. Then pour it into a cocktail shaker, and shake it up hard. "You want to aerate it until you have a silky texture," says McGarry.

Upgrade Your Simple Syrup

Bartenders like simple syrup — sugar dissolved in water — because it lets them add sweetness without the worry of gritty sugar falling to the bottom of the glass. McGarry makes his with demerara sugar. "It adds a roasted characteristic that goes well with coffee and whiskey," he says. He starts each drink by pouring 1/2 ounce of the concoction into a warmed glass. 

Respect Your Brew

McGarry's pick is Sumatra coffee, because "it has just the right amount of earthy characteristics." Whatever variety you use, it should be freshly made and hot, so the drink becomes a contrast between "the cold consistency of the cream and the hot coffee," says McGarry. If you're expecting guests, you can make the components ahead: Put the coffee in a thermos, then whip the cream in advance and keep that in the fridge.

Easy Does It

"Irish coffee is all about the proportions," says McGarry. The drink is meant to show off the country's storied whiskey, so the other ingredients should be used with restraint. "Finish off with a thumb's worth of cream," says McGarry. "It should be thick and silky so it floats on top." 


Now it's your turn to try this belly-warming drink.

Get the Recipe: Irish Coffee

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