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 one of the most famous and beloved hot cocktails. And while it can be found at bars and pubs across the world, the one at New York City’s famed Irish bar The Dead Rabbit is especially celebrated. We reached out to beverage director Aidan Bowie for his secret to this celebrated classic, so you can make it yourself at home.

As a fairly simple cocktail consisting of four main parts, the quality of ingredients is paramount. There are many Irish whiskeys to choose from, but you’ll want one that’s rich enough to stand up to the coffee and cream, while remaining mellow and smooth enough to not be overpowering. For this recipe, Bowie opts for Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey, which fulfills these criteria while offering a respectable quality-to-affordability ratio.

Naturally, the choice of coffee is also important, and personal preference can come into play here. In general, you’ll want one that is bold, smooth, and assertive without being overly chocolatey or fruity. Since coffee roasting and distribution can vary city by city and town by town, Bowie doesn’t specify a particular brand, though his team is currently working with Ireland-based Calendar Coffee for its version. But have fun pairing different roasts and brands with the whiskey to find what works best for you.

For the rest of the recipe, there are only some minor differences from a standard Irish Coffee recipe. The bar uses a rich (two-parts sugar to one-part water) syrup made with demerara sugar, which is a raw sugar extracted from sugar cane that naturally contains molasses. Its flavor and color is somewhere between brown and white sugar, and it adds depth and nuance that regular simple syrup does not.

The other difference is that rather than whipped cream, the bar uses unsweetened heavy cream, whipped until it’s frothy, allowing it to rest comfortably atop of the drink without sinking. This gives a sturdy platform on which to optionally grate fresh nutmeg, and the cream will slowly incorporate as you sip your drink.


  • 1 ounce Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey

  • 3 1/2 ounces brewed coffee, hot

  • 2/3 ounce rich demerara syrup (recipe below)

  • 1 ounce 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 an index finger.

  4. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

  5. For demerara syrup: Add 2 cups demerara sugar and 1 cup water to a small saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Let cool. Reserve unused syrup refrigerated in airtight container for up to two weeks.