Drinks

This Coffee Was Created Just for Pairing with Whiskey

It’s not an Irish coffee 'til you add the booze
Bushmills Whiskey for Irish Coffee
Photo: Bushmills Irish Whiskey via Instagram

Who doesn't love an Irish coffee? It's a perfect marriage of two things we love: booze and caffeine. Especially this time of year, there's no denying the appeal of a steaming mug of coffee, dressed up with a hearty pour of Irish whiskey—with whipped cream on top, of course. It's a classic for a reason, and a perfectly acceptable morning pick-me-up during the holidays.

To improve upon the classic, the team at iconic Irish whiskey distillery Bushmills took it upon themselves to create a single-origin coffee designed to complement their own spirit perfectly. They collaborated with Root & Branch, a coffee roaster in Belfast, to create a unique roast, which uses whiskey barrels to impart flavor into the beans.

"The similarities between coffee roasting and whiskey making are striking, and there is much overlap," Simon Johnson, co-owner of Root & Branch, says. "For distillers and roasters alike, we work with raw materials that require constant attention at every stage and a level of precision to get it just right."

To create the whiskey-ready coffee, Root & Branch first seasons the green coffee beans in former Bushmills casks. He lets the beans rest in the whiskey barrels for three months, agitating them once a week to ensure they pick up the flavor evenly before getting roasted. "We chose an elegant yet simple green coffee bean that would instantly pick up the malt-rich flavor and notes of honey, fresh fruit and vanilla, when matured in the former whiskey cask," Johnson says. The Bushmills Original it gets paired with is light, dynamic and highly approachable, well suited to mixing—especially with coffee.

Once you've got the beans and the Bushmills at the ready, the Root & Branch crew recommends using a French press or Aeropress to brew their coffee (and provides the specs, of course). Their recommended cocktail was designed by Natasha David of Nitecap in New York City, and it calls for stirring the two together with a brown sugar-almond syrup for nutty sweetness. It's then topped with vanilla whipped cream, because why not?

The bean-and-bottle combo is now sold online—a great gift for anyone who's equal parts mixologist and barista.

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