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An Irish Secret and an Ozark Hillbilly Surprise for Great Coffee

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Traditional Irish coffee recipe revised.

Discover two tips for making the next cup of coffee you brew, memorable ones for your friends and family.


One of the more enjoyable moments of brewing coffee is when you serve a friend or a family member your newest concoction or discovery, and watch for the telltale wince of a missed target or the eye-widened expression of caffeinated pleasure.The second most enjoyable moment is to see if they can guess why YOUR cup is so much better than their previous fare.

Now, this is not to say that I go for or recommend exotics when it comes to coffee brewing. Coffee first…everything else comes second.

For example, when it comes to listening to music, my first choice for any single instrument is listening to a violin solo. And, add on an accompaniment such as some piano and the listening pleasure becomes elevated. However, if the pianist loses his way and adds too much, the balance is lost and it begins to sound more like a musical duel and the flavor of the evening is ruined.

An Irish Secret

This thought came to me after reading a recent article about one woman’s experience finding what she says is the best Irish coffee she has ever had after experiencing a number of different Irish coffees in Ireland.

I thought this odd because Irish Coffee recipes tend to be fairly homogenous: 2 teaspoons of brown sugar; 4 ounces of hot, freshly brewed robust coffee; 1-2 shots or Irish Whiskey; and, an ounce of heavy cream.

But what made this article especially remarkable, is that she discovered a favorite that rose above all others—of which, she asked her bartender his secret. As it turns out, the secret lay with the coffee. What he used was not the typical freshly brewed strong roast recommended in many Irish Coffee recipes. Instead, it was coffees’ poorer cousin—instant coffee!

According to the writer, the bartender explained that, “…you can’t use coffee that is too strong, too flavorful or, in his words, too “good.” Those coffees will upset the balance of the drink.”

It raises the question then of what comes first in an Irish coffee—the whiskey or the coffee? I imagine that it depends on the individual palate. But, like listening to an accompaniment during a violin solo, or the give and take of a comedy duo routine, I can understand that the bartender (and the writer) find balance makes for a better Irish coffee.

It’s an interesting observation; And contrary to what most Irish Coffee recipes recommend—which is why I thought this needed sharing. Unfortunately, I do not have any Irish whiskey on hand to test this out. However, what I do have on hand is the second topic of this article: an Ozark Hillbilly surprise for great coffee.

An Ozark Hillbilly Surprise

Modern Day Moonshine

I am not a fan of grain alcohol. I like beer. I like wine. I like waking up not finding myself on the floor.

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However, at the behest of some family members at a Labor Day picnic, I was introduced for the first time to modern day moonshine. More precisely, it was “Backwoods Liqueurs, Premium Craft Spirits Pecan Pie” with the requisite “XXX” and Hillbilly with rifle and backcountry still label. Fifty Proof in an attractive jug-shaped, frosted glass 750ml container.

I had my doubts and would have liked to stick to my beer, but…what the hell. I tried some in a red plastic cup…and then some more…and then a little more just to be sure, and for some reason all of my relatives became almost as good-looking as I am.

Long story short, I took a bottle of “Pecan Pie Moonshine” back home with me and found that I like it best added to my coffee. When I served it to friends not telling them what I had added, it was typically with wide eyed approval complementing the pecan hint in the coffee, and remarks of how I look different…better, to them somehow.

Recipe mix recommended by the Irish Coffee writer

In a preheated cup, using the typical Irish Coffee layering technique, add:

1 spoonful of instant espresso powder
5 ounces of boiling water
1 ounce of Irish whiskey
1 big dollop of thickened, heavy cream

Recipe mix recommended by the writer:

In a preheated cup, add:

5 ounces of freshly brewed espresso
1 spoonful of condensed cream
2 ounces of Backwoods Liqueurs’ Pecan Pie Liqueur
1 spoonful of whipped cream

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on the connection between coffee and healthy living. For continual updates about the benefits of coffee on your health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Images courtesy of Pixabay and the writer.


The secret to a great Irish Coffee isn’t what you’d expect” By Elizabeth Karmel for AP News, March 16, 2020.

Backwoods Liqueurs at www.Backwoodscraftspirits.com