Irish coffee revival

Yesterday I had a few memories from long ago flooding back, which seems to happen often when I’m eating. This time it wasn’t a food memory, but rather an alcohol-related one.

When I was growing up, my parents and their friends would have Irish coffee-making competitions at their dinner parties. Who could settle just the right amount of cream on top of the hot coffee without letting it sink? (Even a haze of cream was not allowed.) We all had the proper glasses, but unfortunately the coffee was instant. This was probably because we couldn’t get hold of any – or maybe we just didn’t know any better!

It’s strange how some things just are forgotten. Irish coffees never seem to fall off menus, but I rarely see them being ordered in restaurants – a real pity because the coffee is so much better these days.

Anyway, I ordered one last night at a well-known restaurant and it got me thinking about which other hot toddies I could try this winter. My mom told me about The Bishop that she used to drink at The Moulin Rouge Hotel in Hillbrow back in the 80s: a warmed port with slices of grilled oranges and cloves.

At the Melrose Arch Hotel in Johannesburg a few weeks ago I was introduced to a warm shooter called a Christmas Cake: a tot of rum and tequila served with a quarter of orange, sprinkled with brown sugar and flambéed. This did the trick and warmed my soul, to say the least.

I thought about making white hot chocolate using blocks from a milky slab and a tot or two of peppermint liqueur, or even a hot-buttered spiced whiskey with a touch of brown sugar, lemon rind and nutmeg, and finished off with a knob of butter.

If you don’t fancy your spirits warm, then you could always add a touch of chilli to bring some heat.

(By the way, the Irish coffee I ordered was from the Noordhoek Spur, where I was eating some of the most authentic nachos around.)

Happy cocktail making. Cheers!


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