21 December 2012

Christmas Crackers... Clouds in my (Irish) Coffee

"I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee and...." 

Carly Simon 1972 

Cumulus, Nimbus, Cirrus, Stratus, sadly Carly's lyrics don't elaborate further ( not the only conundrum associated with that song ) but from the undoubtedly cloudy island of Ireland where all of them are frequently in evidence, come not one but two world famous beverages celebrated for their iconic, milky cloud cover. One is a well poured pint of Guinness and the other is of course an equally well dispensed and expertly crafted stemmed glass of Irish Coffee.

Irish whiskey can be distilled nowhere else in the world except in Ireland. It is a heavenly golden spirit which has conquered the world and helped put that Emerald Isle on the tourist map. Irish Whiskey - in Irish uisce beatha or "water of life" is smokier and some would say a less smooth version than its closest rivals. An acquired taste undoubtedly, it's the whiskey drinkers' whiskey, a whiskey connoisseur's first choice but for those of us not so lucky to be so well acquainted the best introduction is probably via another quintessential Irish classic - Irish Coffee. The combination of excellent coffee and Irish whiskey topped with rich cream with its classic monochrome good looks makes a uniquely elegant and delicious drink.

How to make one...If there's one skill you perfect this seasonal holiday let it be this one! Prepare all your ingredients in advance as time is of the essence. There is nothing worse than a luke warm drink. Make strong black coffee a long shot of espresso is ideal and keep hot. Lightly whip double cream with a half tsp castor sugar added. Hold in the fridge. Heat a stemmed goblet by dipping it in hot water. Dry and put a teaspoon of brown sugar in the glass followed by a measure of Irish Whiskey. Ideally the whiskey should be warmed so the sugar will dissolve easily. Pour in the hot coffee and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Now for the slightly tricky bit. Pour the cream over the back of a desert spoon so that it falls gently onto the coffee mixture. Under no circumstances should the cream mix with the coffee. Black and white, hot and cold......clouds in my coffee! 

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