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Irish Coffee inventor celebrated in Tyrone hometown

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Chelsea Traynor and Sarah Rush enjoy an Irish coffee in Scholars in Castlderg.

Castlederg has gained a reputation in recent years as one the coldest places in Ireland, so maybe it should come as no surprise that the inventor of the famous heart-warming Irish Coffee hailed from the Tyrone town.

Folklore has it that in 1943 Joseph Sheridan was running a restaurant at a small airport in southwest Ireland, when he presented his weary travelling customers, with his marvellous creation topped off with cream.

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One customer asked whether it was Brazilian coffee, to which Sheridan replied “No it’s Irish Coffee”.

Almost 75 years later on January 25, in the very building in Castlederg where Joseph Sheridan was educated, National Irish Coffee Day will be celebrated, as it is around the world.

Each customer to the Scholar’s Bar in Castlederg will be treated to a complimentary Irish Coffee to celebrate the town’s famous son.

“This is the first year that we will be taking part in the National Irish Coffee day, so we’re hoping that it can become an annual event for us here,” said John McHugh the proprietor of the Scholar’s Bar which is in the same building as the old school-house where Mr Sheridan was educated sometime around 1916-1919.

“Rory who is our chef in the bar here, has been busy practising making the perfect Irish Coffee and we think the customers will be mightily impressed.”

But despite the world-wide success of the Irish Coffee, the provenance of the inventor is maybe a little less known.

“There are a few around Castlederg who would know about Joe Sheridan, but there are plenty of people who didn’t know he came from the town.

“Irish Coffee is one of the most famous drinks around the world. So it’s only fitting that we do something to recognise him.”

To this day, Irish Coffee is still served to dignitaries arriving at Shannon Airport, which is close to where Mr Sheridan invented his famous beverage at the old airport known as Foyne’s.

It’s said that the airport, a precursor to Shannon International Airport, attracted its share of celebrities with Cary Grant, Che Guevara, Marilyn Monroe and her then husband Arthur Miller having been photographed sipping an Irish Coffee.

Although the drink was born in Ireland, it grew up in San Francisco at the Buena Vista Cafe.

In the years since, the Buena Vista has served over 32 million Irish Coffees and still whips up an average of 2,000 per day.
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How to make the perfect Irish Coffee – don’t stir it!

THE original recipe as per Joseph Sheridan: “Cream as rich as an Irish brogue; coffee as strong as a friendly hand; sugar sweet as the tongue of a rogue; and whiskey smooth as the wit of the land.”

Pre-heat a clear stemmed glass with very hot water.

Empty the water, and add two teaspoons of brown sugar. Now add some freshly brewed rich coffee and stir. As soon as the sugar is melted, add a generous measure of Irish whiskey (about four to six teaspoons).

Stir again, and then wait for the brew to still. Now take a hot teaspoon and pour gently whipped fresh cream slowly over the back of the spoon.

The cream should be not too stiff and not too liquid.

A perfect Irish Coffee should look pretty much like that other famous Irish drink – Guinness!

And remember never stir it because the coffee is meant to be enjoyed as you sip the warm, sweet nectar through the luxurious cream.

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 15 Main Street, Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, BT82 8AS