Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Whiskey Cocktails

The Dead Rabbit Irish Coffee

A tall glass coffee mug rests on a wooden table. The mug hold dark black coffee with a thick layer of white foam dusted with nutmeg.
Image: / Tim Nusog

Along with the Hot Toddy, the Irish Coffee is the most famous and beloved of hot drinks (though more often than not it’s enjoyed in early spring, rather than winter, as it coincides with St. Patrick’s Day). And while it can be found at Irish bars and pubs across the country, and world, the one at New York City’s famed Irish bar The Dead Rabbit is especially celebrated. Though the Irish Coffee at Dead Rabbit is only slightly altered from how you would normally find it, the slight changes make a world of difference. Luckily, bartender Jack McGarry shared his recipe for the bar’s delicious hot Irish Coffee, so you can make it yourself at home.

For starters, and arguably the most important aspect of the drink, is the whiskey used. There are countless Irish whiskeys to choose from. But you’ll want one bold and rich enough to stand up to the coffee and cream, and mellow and smooth enough to not be overpowering. It’s also best to use a high quality but affordable enough bottle so that the cocktail doesn’t cost $20 a mug. For this recipe, McGarry advises using Clontarf Irish Whiskey, which hits all the aforementioned marks.

Naturally, the choice of coffee is also important, and again you’ll want one that is bold, smooth and assertive without being overly chocolatey or overly fruity. Since coffee roasting and distribution can vary city by city and town by town, McGarry doesn’t specify a particular brand, though the bar menu refers to it as being “aromatic.” Coffee snobs can have some fun pairing different roasts and brands to the whiskey to find what works best.

For the rest of the recipe, there are only some minor differences from a standard Irish Coffee recipe. The bar uses a one-to-one simple syrup made with Demerara sugar, which is a raw sugar extracted from sugar cane. Its flavor and color is somewhere between brown and white sugar, and it adds depth and nuance that a normal simple syrup does not. The other difference is that rather than whipped cream, the bar uses unsweetened heavy cream, whipped until it’s frothy and can rest smoothly on the top of the drink without immediately sinking. This gives a sturdy platform on which to grate fresh nutmeg, and the cream will slowly incorporate as you enjoy the hot beverage.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Clontarf Irish whiskey

  • 4 ounces brewed coffee, hot

  • 3/4 ounce demerara syrup (one part demerara sugar, one part water)

  • Heavy cream, lightly whipped

  • Garnish: nutmeg, freshly grated


  1. Fill an Irish Coffee glass with hot water and let stand for a few minutes to warm.

  2. Discard the water and add the whiskey, coffee and demerara syrup.

  3. Stir to combine and top with a layer of heavy cream the width of your thumb.

  4. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.