Like most favorite cocktails of Yore, the humble Irish cocktail is made with only a few ingredients: a good quality coffee, sugar, cream and a great Irish Whiskey.
Just as important as the Whiskey is the coffee and sugar. At Buena Vista, Wiznitzer’s favorite when it comes to the Irish coffee, two sugar cubes are used. “They dissolve it in hot water and build the coffee out of there. It’s awesome,” she says.
Though she typically uses Slane, a small-batch new to the scene out of County Meath, Wiznitzer says larger brands like Teeling and Tullamore Dew—also used at Buena Vista—make excellent replacements. “Tullamore Dew has two new expressions out, an XO finished in rum barrels offering banana and tropical notes, and their cider cask, which adds a fun dimension,” she says. “And if you want to go super fance, Red Breast is always great.”
The Cream Float
Home bartenders shouldn’t be wary of any clotted cream mishaps when preparing the cream float—Wiznitzer swears anyone can do it. “The trick is to dry shake it to the point where it still has the ability to move around—that’s the sweet spot. Usually 10 to 20 seconds will get you there. You know you’ve done it well when it layers beautifully on top when you pour it out of the vessel.” For another dimension of flavor, Wiznitzer has added flair by way of orange zest, or freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon. “You can get a little creative.”
Sugar Cubes or Sugar Syrup
Wiznitzer also suggests to also making sugar syrups as opposed to sugar cubes: “Sometimes it’s harder to dissolve,” she says. “The less volume the sugar syrup, the more room for the other ingredients. Who doesn’t want more Whiskey or to sip through more cream? It’s a nice pick-me-up.”
Recipe by Pam Wiznitzer, Seamstress, NYC
1.75 ounces Irish Whiskey, preferably Slane
0.5 ounces Demerara simple syrup (2:1, sugar to water)
2.5 ounces hot strong brewed coffee
1 ounce cream float (recipe below)
In a heatproof Georgian glass, add Slane Irish Whiskey, Demerara simple syrup and coffee. Leave room at the top for the heavy cream. Stir gently. Float a thin layer of cream on top. Garnish with a healthy grating of fresh cinnamon.
6 ounces heavy cream
3 teaspoons powdered sugar
1 grating fresh cinnamon
Combine ingredients in a Mason jar or protein shaker. Cover and shake for 20-30 seconds, being careful not to overshake. They consistency should become denser, but still pourable.