It may be early February, but I’m listening to the Decembrists and planning for March, March 17th to be exact, so maybe I should switch to listening to Flogging Molly.
Today was a perfect example of that old adage, failing to plan is planning to fail. Just look at the above photo of a sad, wimpy, little Irishey coffee.
What happened? I free measured/poured, I didn’t have the ingredients I needed and had to substitute on the fly, and, well that’s it, but it doesn’t matter, those two failures will make a Saturday morning a bust every time.
Fortunately, I was left with a serviceable drink, but we here at A-D aim a little higher than serviceable.
My friend and fellow Morning After listener, Lance, emailed me a link on Irish coffees. Interestingly enough, it was in The Wall Street Journal, a paper I no longer subscribe to, but wouldn’t mind a subscription to.
The article suggested using apple brandy, one of my favorite base spirits. We keep a few here at the house
a real deal Calvados from Normandy, Clear Creek’s Eau-De-Vie de Pomme, and Laird’s Very Rare and Bonded. One thing you won’t see here at A-D is Laird’s Apple Jack, that thoroughly undrinkable mixture of apple brandy, apple flavoring, and neutral spirits does not meet the A-D guidelines for serveability.
Eau-De-Vie loosely translated means “water of life,” and what a life I have. Whiskey means roughly the same, as it’s derived from the Roman, vitae aquae. The Clear Creek EDVs are all wonderful, with the pear version being quite possibly the best tasting thing I own. The EDVs are basically fruit white lightenings and are much more complex then the sugary liqueurs Clear Creek produces. The Pomme is aged eight years in Limousine oak barrels and is a very nice dessert or night cap, don’t mix with it unless you’re charging $18 a cocktail.
The Clear Creek is available in 375 ml bottles at most high end liquor stores. The Laird’s options, other than Apple Jack, which isn’t an option, can be tougher to find. I found my Very Rare at Argonaut in Denver, but the Bonded is available locally at The Wine Merchant for about $23, a song, for what it can do for you in terms of elevating your home bar. Sanctuaria and Taste have sometimes cornered the local market on the Bonded, but the Merchant usually has it in stock.
But is this Irish? How does one make an Irish coffee without Irish whiskey? A good question. If it ain’t Brogue, don’t fix it, right? I’ve hammered a dozen or so Irish coffees at John D. McGurk’s in one sitting and regretted it the next day, so I know what I’m talking about. The McGurk’s version is lacking and I’m not a fan. Not only for the insane place it took me, but also for the dozen or so dollops of half melted vanilla ice cream they top it with and the weak ass drip coffee they used. I could have made an improved version of their’s, but Lance did send me that article, and it was in the Journal, and I love apple brandy, and thought this concoction may be a good second option for the lasses come Saturday March 17, 2012 at about 6 AM here at the house, so I best try it out first.
I don’t often drink Irish coffees, but when I do, I always request John Powers over Jameson.
Powers is my go to for the lower price point Irish whiskies for both sipping and mixing. Red Breast and Middleton are saved for the single-malt glasses and only the best of company. Why the Powers over Jamo? When in Ireland I notices most seasoned drinkers calling for Teachers, Paddy’s, and John Powers, and when I got back to the States, Powers was the only one I could find in the StL. That was ten years ago and no longer the case, but I tend to dance with the one who brought me and go with the devil I know.
So, what about a recipe, Brogue or otherwise;
2.0 ounces base spirit
7.0 ounces French pressed coffee
1.0 dollops fresh whipped cream
2.0 teaspoons Demura sugar
Garnish with an orange twist and grated cinnamon.
Heat the mug in the microwave, toss in sugar and spirits, add a bit if coffee, stir with bar spoon until dissolved, top with coffee, then add whippy and garnish. It should resemble a pint of Guinness with an orange peal swath on top.
You may also substitute a rich dark rum, such as El Dorado 12 year or Rhum Bartencourt 8 year for a less rich option, if you feel so inclined. Apple brandy is a nice change of pace, but Irish whiskey will always be tops in my book. As for the sugar, Demura sugar is basically sugar in the raw, it’s less processed and has more flavor. I use it to make my simple syrup over super refined sugar as well. Go with French pressed coffee over drip, as French pressed coffee is a denser base for the whippy to rest upon. In addition, French pressed coffee tends to get me a lot more buzzed up. French presses are also great for brewing lose teas. Whip your own whippy as well, no canned stuff here unless you want a little nitrous buzz as well. Controlling what goes into your food and beverage is the best part of doing it yourself. As for coffee brands I stick with Goshen’s Old School Tattoo Blend
mainly for the hot as nails gall above, but also because I’ve met the owner, Matt Herren, several times, and aside from his love of the San Francisco Giants, he’s a pretty cool guy. He roasts a great product. The fact that my favorite local chef, Amy Zupanci, speaks highly of him also helps. Matt used to own 222 Artisan something or other in Edwardsville. That place remains a must stop for coffee and a salami and cheddar croissant when we travel to Eville for the Goshen Farmer’s Market. The bread on their European styled sammies was so crusty it would make your gums bleed. They’ve Americanized their sammy options, no more bleeding gums and more crap in-between the bread, but it’s still great. Matt is now working with 4 Hands brewery for their Bona-Fide Stout, a coffee stout that I’m sure will kick Schlafly’s and Kaldi’s collaboration’s behind, not that I don’t love and serve Kaldi’s Coffee Stout here. I’ve seen that the Bona-Fide is getting a barrel aging as well, which I’m quite excited about.
In general, don’t sleep on the ILL-Side, StL Magazine just did a piece on how Eville is the up-and-coming place for foodies, check it out here.
Anyway, back to the moral of this story, my failing to plan. I didn’t measure on the coffee and it turned out weak and I didn’t have heavy cream, only half and half, so no whippy. Still a tasty drink, but presentation was way off an I believe that had the coffee been stronger, the mouth feel and flavor would have been elevated to that of a great drink. Thankfully these mistakes were made today and not forty-two days from now.
In the end, it is clear, with not much more than what I keep at the house on a regular basis, I can put together an Irish coffee that, even prepared with the imperfect methodology as the one I’m drinking now was, rivals anything you’d get eating or drinking out.
And if you don’t get the title, look up Brogue and harken back to the days when Mike Myers was funny.