FOOD&WINE Ireland's cocktail and drinks expert Oisin Davis looks at two bars who are honoring the Irish tradition of liquor and coffee in a cocktail.  

I'm sure doctors would advise us all to avoid mixing caffeine with alcohol. To be fair, it's probably not too wise to ingest something that actively stimulates you while simultaneously gives you the munchies and makes you want to sing Bohemian Rhapsody. Trust the people of Ireland to master it so. I am referring to the humble Irish Coffee. Easily the world's most loved hot boozy beverage and also I might add, a great contender for one of the world's top ten cocktails.

There is, of course, another coffee laced delight that is also wildly popular, the Espresso Martini. Seeing as I'm a great one for ignoring medical advice myself, it should come as no surprise that I love my coffee & hooch mixed together, especially with Irish spirits and enjoyed of course in meticulous moderation. So I thought it would be cool to put the spotlight on two bars that are nailing such serves.

Bar Swift, 12 Old Compton St, Soho, London W1D 4TQ, UK

Should you find yourself in the Soho area of London and in need of something with a little zip in the liquor, you will find the finest Irish Coffee in all of the UK at Bar Swift on Old Compton Street. Not only does Swift offer up stellar drinks but it has a gorgeously inclusive atmosphere that co-owner Bobby Hiddleston perfectly encapsulates, "we want our guests to feel as comfortable and welcome as they would if they were in our own living room."

Although Bobby himself is a proud Scotsman, he is rather partial to our national spirit. "Irish whiskey has a versatility that other whiskeys may not necessarily have. Its flavor profile allows it to be used in exciting, fun ways." And while all the cocktails are outstanding there, let me say this again, Swift's Irish coffee is magnificent, an absolute must if you visit. Unusually, they use the Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition as their whiskey for it, for as Bobby himself says, "We wanted a blended whiskey, as the malt & grain blend is integral to the flavor. We loved the concept of Caskmates, as its natural coffee and chocolate notes harmonized with the drink perfectly."

"Swift Irish Coffee"

Courtesy of Bobby Hiddleston


- 40ml Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition

- 75ml demerara-sweetened strong filter coffee (They keep the coffee at 75°C/167°F, so that it is hot but doesn't burn, and creates a lovely counterpoint to the cold cream on top)

- Float of hand, whipped double cream

- Grating of nutmeg


Using a heated glass, pour in the whiskey and then the coffee and stir.

Top it off with the cream placed on carefully and then grate with the fresh nutmeg.

The River Club, Western Rd, The Lough, Cork, T12 X2AH

Don't let the relaxing waterside views distract you from The River Club's excellent cocktail menu! It is enriched with all kinds of liquid Irish beauts that will act as perfect preludes or conclusions to their equally Irish food menu. One would expect such brilliance from their Belfast born but honorary Corkonian Bar Manager, Paul Bloomer. He has a fine hospitality pedigree that saw a good stint in the multiple award-winning Merchant Hotel, "For us, quality is key, and given that we’re based in Cork, we have an abundance of local produce and products available at our fingertips, so it would be remiss of us not to take advantage of that."

One such neighborhood gem, is Kalak Irish Single Malt Vodka which Paul uses for their aptly named "Espress O'Martini", his Irish take on the aforementioned classic, Espresso Martini, "Kalak is four times distilled, which gives it a unique creamy and dark chocolate palate – not something you’d normally associate from such a spirit and that lends itself perfectly to one of our most popular cocktails."

"Espress O'Martini"

Created by Paul Bloomer, The River Club Cork


- 35ml Kalak Irish Vodka

- 15ml Black Twist Hard Coffee

- 1 espresso shot 

- 10ml Demerara sugar syrup METHOD 
Chill a martini or coupe glass with some ice.
Place all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice.

Seal it and shake it hard for 10 seconds.

Remove ice from the glass, strain the cocktail and garnish with some roasted coffee beans.

* Originally published on our sister website, FOOD&WINE Ireland.

Author: Oisin Davis

Oisin Davis works on a global level as an Irish drinks evangelist and producer. He is the founder of nationwide drinks festivals that celebrate Irish spirits in the best bars and restaurant in the 32 counties and to top it off he is co-owner of Poacher's Premium Beverages, Ireland's only all-natural mixer company. F&W is delighted that Oisin has joined our contributing team with his column "Great Irish Drinks." 

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