With St. Patrick’s Day next week, it’s the perfect time of year to imbibe a favorite Irish cocktail, the Irish coffee. The drink is traditionally made with hot coffee, sugar and Irish whiskey that’s stirred together and then topped with thick, cold cream. While people have been drinking coffee cocktails for much longer, this version of the drink originated in the 1940s in Foynes, County Limerick. Chef Joe Sheridan created the drink by adding whiskey to hot coffee that was being served to a group of cold American travelers. When they asked if the coffee was Brazilian, he replied that it was “Irish Coffee.” By the 1950s, the drink had spread to the United States and has appeared on pub and restaurant menus ever since.
Today, you’ll find variations of recipes and unique twists on the classic, but they all celebrate the combination of hot coffee, liquor and cream. These Philadelphia spots are serving some of the best in the area.
Fado Irish Pub & Restaurant
1500 Locust St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Fado is located in the center of it all with the Academy of Music, the Kimmel Center and Rittenhouse Square just a few steps away. Visit for team trivia on Wednesdays, a DJ and dance floor Fridays and Saturdays, special hours on European game days and plenty of happy hour promos throughout the week. Or just stop in to enjoy an Irish coffee by the fire on a cold day. Fado’s $9 Irish coffee is made by warming a traditional Irish coffee glass with hot water. The glass is then filled with a heaping scoop of brown sugar, 1.25 ounces of Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey and fresh brewed coffee. It’s topped with homemade whipped cream and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.
Irish Pub Philly
2007 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
1123 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Irish Pub is a bit of a Philadelphia institution. In fact, the 20th Street location even appeared in the movie “Rocky Balboa.” The energetic atmosphere, friendly staff and hearty pub food has made it a city favorite. The most popular Irish coffee drink on the menu is made with house-blended coffee, Jameson Irish Whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream and then topped with whipped cream and a creme de menthe drizzle. It’s served in a coffee mug rimmed with green sugar for $7.50.
4501 Woodhaven Rd.
Philadelphia, PA 19154
Irish pub, full-service restaurant, sports bar…Katie O’Donnell’s has it all. The Northeast Philly spot is located by the recently renovated (and renamed) Philadelphia Mills Mall. It’s best known for classic Irish dishes like shepherd’s pie as well as daily prime rib specials, gigantic burgers and fresh seafood. After dinner, sip on one of the several versions of Irish coffee available. Choose the traditional drink, made with coffee and Jameson Irish Whiskey, the house favorite made with coffee and Irish cream, or a mixture of the two drinks – “Katie’s Celtic Coffee,” made with hot coffee, Irish cream and Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey and topped with whipped cream. If you’re not a whiskey fan, you might enjoy the “Coffee Cake” cocktail, featuring hot coffee, Irish cream and cake vodka. Whatever you order, they’re all delicious and cost around $7 each.
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McGillin’s Old Ale House
1310 Drury St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
McGillin’s is Philadelphia’s oldest continuously operating tavern and one of the oldest Irish taverns in the country, so it seems like an obvious choice to enjoy a traditional Irish drink. At McGillin’s, it’s served in a wine glass and made with hot coffee and a shot of Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey. It’s topped with whipped cream for $6. Order a drink and take a seat by the roaring fireplace.
The Plough & the Stars
123 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Located in Old City, The Plough & the Stars is one of Philly’s best Irish pubs. Serving lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends, there’s always a reason to stop in for hearty pub fare or to enjoy an Irish coffee by the fire. The Irish coffee is made with Powers Irish Whiskey, sugar in the raw and cold heavy cream that is shaken a bit to give it a denser texture. Customers are advised not to mix the cream with the coffee, so that they get the sensations of the hot and cold liquid at the same time. True Irish coffee is meant to be sipped through the cream. While the drink is a clear choice for St. Patrick’s Day, it’s served year-round for $7.50. And if you stop by on a Sunday between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., you can also listen to live traditional Irish music.
Michelle Hein is the social media editor for a women’s fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. If the writing gig doesn’t pan out, she constantly dreams of owning her own bakery…perhaps connected to the restaurant/bar that her lawyer husband would love to open.
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