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3 Winning Recipes For Some Of The Best Irish Coffee In Chicago

By Chicagoist_Guest in Food on Feb 22, 2016 8:10PM


By Leigh Kunkel

Last week, some of the best bartenders from around the city gathered at Thalia Hall to find out who had the best version of everyone’s favorite pairing: coffee and booze. The Uppers & Downers Irish Coffee Competition was a precursor to the Uppers & Downers Festival of Coffee Beers, which was held last Saturday at Thalia Hall.

The entries ranged from a lovely pink concoction topped with a white rose from Queen Mary’s Mona Bunni to the more traditional and straightforward, and everything was delicious, buzzy, and boozy. First place went to Roger Landes of mfk, whose “Boatman’s Call” was a creamy blend of orange and almond flavors. We asked the top three contestants to share their recipes with us so that you at home can get through the rest of this winter relatively unscathed. They range from the easy-to-replicate to the super ambitious, but they should give you some great ideas to get through the cold. Sláinte!


1st Place:
Boatman's Call: Roger Landes (mfk)

1 oz Teeling Irish Whiskey
2oz Intelligentsia coffee
1/2 Orgeat syrup
1/4 Black Cane Syrup
1/4 Orange Curaçao
Mascarpone whipped cream

Combine Orgeat, Syrup and Orange Curacao the glass, stir, and top with coffee. Then quenelle the mascarpone whipped cream on top, allowing it to melt and create a delicious crema on top of the drink. It should be served in your favorite coffee mug!


2nd Place:
Fluttered Goodbye: Carlos Matias (Band of Bohemia)

1.5 oz Teeling Irish whiskey
1 oz cocoa nib-orange syrup (recipe below)
Intelligentsia coffee
Toasted green cardamom-vanilla bean whipped cream (recipe below)
Candied hazelnuts (recipe below)
Orange dust (recipe below)

Mix the first two ingredients, then fill with Intelligentsia coffee and top with toasted green cardamom-vanilla bean whipped cream. Finish by grating candied hazelnuts over the cream, along with a sprinkle of candied orange dust.

For the cardamom vanilla syrup:
1. Toast a quarter cup of green cardamom in a pot until it becomes warm and aromatic, but not burnt.
2. Place the cardamom and a split vanilla bean in a sache (made with twine and cheese clothe) and steep it in 1 liter of heavy cream. Let it sit for a day and remove the sache.
3. Either whisk the cream to make it thick, shake it in a cocktail shaker, or charge it with N02 in a whip cream canister.

For the orange cocao syrup:
1. Dissolve half a quart of sugar with half a quart of warm water to make simple syrup.
2. After sugar is dissolved, place it on top of a stove in a pot and steep half a cup of fresh cocoa nibs into the solution for half an hour.
3. Strain out the cocoa nibs once the syrup has cooled down.
4. Peel one orange and place the peels in the cocoa nib syrup. Let this steep for a day.

For the candied hazelnuts:
1. Toast hazelnuts in a pan and add sugar to coat lightly.
2. Remove and let dry.

For the orange powder:
1. Take thin orange slices and dehydrate them for a day.
2. Place the dehydrated slices in a blender and pulverize them.


3rd Place:
Pillow Talk: Laura Kelton (Sportsman's Club)
Teeling Irish Whiskey, Intelligentsia Coffee, Roasted Banana Syrup, Ancho Reyes, Creme de Cacao, Malted Milk Cream.

1.5 oz Teeling Irish Whiskey
1 oz Roasted Banana Syrup (recipe below)
.25 oz Ancho Reyes
.25 oz Creme de Cacao
Intelligentsia Coffee
Malted Milk Cream (recipe below)

Combine the first four ingredients in a heated glass mug. Top with Coffee, then float Malted Milk Cream on top.

Banana Syrup:
6 overripe bananas
4 cups dark brown sugar
2 cups water

Slice unpeeled bananas lengthwise and lay them skin side down on a sheet tray. Sprinkle with cinnamon, salt and a small amount of brown sugar. Flip them skin side up and roast at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and take off the peels. Sprinkle more cinnamon, salt and sugar and place back in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes.

Separately, combine brown sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until sugar has completely dissolved. Add the roasted bananas and incorporate them into the syrup. Let cool and refrigerate overnight or for 12 to 14 hours. Strain and enjoy!

Malted Milk Cream:
1 pint heavy cream
5 tablespoons malted milk powder

Whisk until incorporated. Lightly whip the cream further with a whisk, hand mixer or blender before layering atop the cocktail.