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  • Dan Yeager

Irish Coffee: Why We Fight

You can stand with your foot on a man's neck only so long before he'll do anything to get you to stop, including becoming the most ruthless and savage murderer. This has always been true and may well continue going forward. People really just want to be left alone, but as we bestow power upon individuals to govern, they quickly become drunk with it and seek more and more. They fashion lies to anger one people against another and rally them to fight. Lives are lost and wasted and the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful.

These empires have always been with us because we have a work-shy ruling class who see as an entitlement the World's resources and a life of ease for themselves. The Irish People have been visited by many invaders. We beat the hell out of them for a while and they eventually became Irish, but it wasn't always easy. It was never easy.

There's nothing so pleasant as sitting in a snug in a quiet pub by a warm peat fire and talking treason with your fellow patriots over a nice Irish Coffee. It is in that spirit that we've fashioned our Shillelagh Roast.

We searched the small green island for the best Irish Coffee, having been offered a range of concoctions from insipidly sweet, to tasteless effluent, to bilge-water. Actually, they were all perfectly drinkable and we hadn't left one unfinished, but then we found a Mr. O'Connell of Galway and we regretted every Irish Coffee that was not of his making.

This was back in 2003 or so, we walked into O'Connell's Bar on the square in Galway. There were no other customers and so we had the full attention of the proprietor who fashioned us each a coffee we immediately knew was what we were looking for. Hey Bono, it's at O'Connell's Bar in Galway.

We dried the tears from our eyes and knelt before the altar and asked the blessing of the coffee. Mr. O'Connell then instructed us on the proper way to fashion an Irish Coffee. Lend me your ear.

Begin with a 6 to 8 ounce stemmed glass. Add to it a heaping teaspoonful of sugar. Turbinado is best, but any less-processed sugar will do. Regular white sugar will work, just back off 10 to 15 percent. This is not your last Irish Coffee, so you'll eventually develop a feeling for it. Adjust yourself to your current circumstances.

You then add an ounce and a half of Irish Whiskey. Our favorite is Paddy, but Powers works well, as does Bushmill's. Jameson will work, too, but you'll want to bump up the amount a slight bit. With a silver spoon, stir the whiskey and sugar in a get-to-know-you dance of flavors. The sugar will begin to dissolve.

Fill the glass with impeccably fresh Shillelagh Roast Coffee stopping a half-inch (13mm) from the rim, stirring to combine. You will then top it with gently whipped cream; not cream whipped with anger in your heart for some past injustice, but only the encouragement it needs to stand on its own in softer-than-soft peaks. The key is that it's just fresh cream and nothing else. Don't add vanilla or more sugar. It's only cream and that's enough.

You spoon this cream gently on top of the coffee until just proud of the rim. It should be perfectly smooth and not melting into the coffee. If it's melting, you were too gentle. If it's too wavy, you need to go to confession.

That's it. Never serve it with a spoon or other stirring device. And if you're in the company of a savage and they reach for one, quickly subdue them with a correcting blow upon the sconce with your shillelagh. We sip the coffee through the cream and thank our ancestors for leaving us such a world and vow to leave a better one for the next fella.

That's what we know about Irish Coffee. We doubt Mr. O'Connell is still making them. We pray he is getting his well-deserved rest and reward. We hope whoever is tending his bar will still raise a glass to the picture of him as a young lad singing to J.F.K. when he came to Galway and gave a speech in the square as America's first Irish Catholic President.

They still talk about him.
Kennedy in Galway


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