I have been fortunate to travel to Ireland many times, mainly for work. The first time I arrived in Dublin and exited the plane into the chilly, damp Irish air I was overcome by a feeling of being ‘home’. I have had many an adventure on my travels including accidentally driving into Northern Ireland with a coworker during the Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland conflict. I’ve met many friends and shared many a laugh with them.
I was working in California at the time for a disk drive manufacturer. I was part of an international customer team that serviced Apple as our customer. We had operations internationally as did they and we’d meet up quarterly for reviews of our manufacturing or repair facilities. On this particular trip we were reviewing a service center in Dundalk Ireland, quite close to the Northern Ireland border and then staying in Dublin afterwards.
Somewhere during the meetings, my counterpart at Apple had requested after the meetings ended we go have a drink at a Dublin barrister (lawyer) bar in a prestige hotel where he heard the Rolling Stones were staying. They had supposedly rented out the entire top floor of the hotel while recording an album that summer. Truth be told, this chap could be a bit unwieldy and so fortunately some of my local work pals also came along.
We walked into the barrister bar and I felt like we were in a movie set. The room was full of only men, all with white wigs and neutral-colored business attire. They all looked the same, chromatically that is. In aggregate they created a wash of visual neutrality, causing anything with color to pop.
I was sitting on a banquette facing the entire bar and the instigator of our visit was across from me. I had never seen the Rolling Stones in real life but of course knew what they looked like from album covers, TV and the internet. I ordered an Irish Coffee, feeling it would be a long wait; a bit like waiting for lions to appear on the Serengeti. The actual physical bar was on the far end of the room from where we were sitting. I glanced over and as I looked down the long line of grey, tan and brown suited gray-wigged men, my eyes stopped cold at a younger raven-haired shaggy doo in a bright blue velvet duster popping a bottle of champagne (everyone else was drinking pints). I nudged my partner in crime across the table and discretely nodded toward the bar, ‘is that Keith Richards?’ He looked and barely able to conceal his excitement said ‘No, that’s Ron Woods. Keith Richards has had three full blood transfusions, his skin doesn’t look that normal’.
As he was saying this a man in a similar shag haircut in a dark long coat and light gray boots walked just behind those at our table across from me, heading toward the bar. As if in slow motion, I was hearing the words and studying the man in the coat who looked like he’d lived quite a life and had the oddest pallor I’d ever seen. I waited until my boisterous companion finished speaking and said ‘is THAT Keith Richards?’, sure that if someone were to have three full blood transfusions their skin would undoubtedly look like that. Wide-eyed and almost speechless (a first in the time I’d worked with him), he answered ‘Yes that is Keith Richards’.
And that will be an Irish coffee I shall never forget.
Authentic Irish Coffee recipe
- ¾ cup strong , hot Coffee
- 1-2 teaspoons Granulated Sugar
- 1 ounce Irish Whiskey
- 1-2 tablespoons Heavy Whipping Cream (or double cream)
- Fill a glass stemmed Irish coffee mug or brandy snifter with hot water; discard it and refill the glass with boiling water.
- Discard the boiling water and fill the glass a bit over half-full with the strong hot coffee. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar to suit your taste; stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Add an ounce of Irish Whiskey.
- To float the cream on top, turn a small dining spoon upside down and holding it at a 45 degree angle with the tip of the spoon touching the glass just above the surface of the cocktail, slowly pour the cream onto the back of the spoon allowing it to flow over the sides of the spoon float on top.