The Possible Reason Irish Coffee Isn't As Popular As It Once Was

According to Food & Wine, the expresso martini is having a renaissance: the drink, once seen as an outdated trend, has gained traction among celebrities and bargoers in recent years.

Despite the newfound popularity of the espresso martini, the drink's precursor, Irish coffee, continues to fade into the background. Invented in 1943 — 40 years before bartender Dick Bradsell whipped up the first espresso martini in the 1980s — Irish coffee allegedly got its start as a means of fortifying weary travelers left stranded in an Irish airport (Food & Wine). While Irish coffee is now served in bars worldwide, it's gained something of a bad reputation.

If you've been disappointed by Irish coffee in Ireland, don't let it color your opinion of the drink — at least, according to Sean Muldoon, managing partner of the acclaimed New York pub The Dead Rabbit. Muldoon told the Washington Post that the Irish coffees found in Ireland typically aren't very good: despite the fact that Irish Coffee is the only drink on the International Bartenders Association's list of cocktails that calls for Irish whiskey, Irish bartenders rarely take the drink seriously. The Dead Rabbit's Irish coffee, however, remains the most popular drink at the bar.

Irish coffee has unpleasant associations

Food and Wine explains that some people may avoid Irish coffee because they find the ingredients intimidating. While vodka cocktails, like the espresso martini, are a mainstay in most bars, some patrons may be turned off by the idea of a cocktail made with whiskey.

Plus, most bars aren't equipped to produce the high-quality coffee critical for the drink. After all, as The Alcohol Professor explains, the best whiskey can't save an Irish coffee made with a subpar brew. Even with quality ingredients, the drink is deceptively difficult. It's easy to mess up the ratios: a common mistake is to go too heavy on the booze.

Additionally, health-conscious bargoers may be swayed by concerns about mixing alcohol and caffeine. According to Healthline, the stimulant effects of caffeine can mask the effects of alcohol, making it easier to overindulge. While caffeine has long been used as a quick way to "sober up," it doesn't actually change the way that your body processes alcohol. According to Medical Xpress, the combination can impair your judgment more than alcohol alone, which is why FDA cracked down on alcoholic energy drinks like Four Loko in 2010. In short, Irish coffee might not be the wisest choice for a wild night out — but don't overlook the drink if you want a warm yet bracing pick-me-up on a chilly day.