Cocktail Stories: Irish Coffee, Swift

26th February, 2019 by Owen Bellwood

When your drink contains just three ingredients, and two of them must be Irish whiskey and coffee, the space for innovation can be limiting. But, London bar Swift has adopted the serve as its signature cocktail.

Bobby Hiddleston founded Soho’s Swift bar with his wife Mia Johansson in 2016

London cocktail bar Swift opened in late 2016 and quickly earned a reputation for serving up the best Irish Coffee this side of Dublin.

According to Bobby Hiddleston, co­-owner of the drinking den in London’s Soho, “consistency and balance” are key to the bar’s version of the coffee-based drink.

He says: “The secret to the perfect Irish Coffee is to keep it sweet but not too sweet, hot but not too hot, strong but not too strong, and you have to make the cream silky and luxurious.”

With a classic recipe to stick to, he says that although Swift’s Irish Coffee is “essentially the same drink”, the differences lie in the bar’s “regulation of all the variables”. Swift uses Colombian coffee from neighbouring Algerian Coffee Stores, Jameson Caskmates Irish whiskey and hand­-whipped double cream.

Hiddleston says: “Caskmates has a stout-­barrel finish, which gives it a dark, rich coffee flavour, which naturally works well with all the parts of the drink.”

Since the bar launched its Irish Coffee, Hiddleston says it has become one of its most poplar offerings: “Even in summer, it is our top-­selling cocktail.”

When it came to reinventing the classic after-­dinner drink, the bar entrepreneur says his team had to be sure to treat the drink like any other cocktail. “It has to have all its elements in balance,” he explains. “The only main difference between this and other drinks is that it also has a hot and cold contrast.”

According to Hiddleston, the bar’s focus on the temperature differentiation between the coffee and cream is the factor that makes Swift’s Irish Coffee stand out from the crowd. He says: “It’s all about temperature control – we keep the coffee in a sous vide so it is hot, but not burned, and the cream cold, so the contrast is prominent.”

Click through to the next page for a list of ingredients and how to recreate the Irish Coffee at home.

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