There might be certain instances when an Irish coffee is more suitable than others: a cold winter evening, perhaps, or in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. In truth, there’s really no wrong time to order the traditional Irish cocktail as long as it’s made with care. The cocktail came to Los Angeles via San Francisco’s Buena Vista Café, when SF columnist Stanton Delaplane shared the recipe with Tom Bergin’s Public House. While the Irish pub on Fairfax offers arguably the best version in the city, the beloved spot’s future is a bit unclear, and is currently only open from to Thursdays to Saturdays. Thankfully you can find other luxurious Irish coffees in whiskey bars and other jaunts around town, especially if you’re searching for a fix throughout the week. Whether you’re looking for a satisfying hair of the dog in the morning or an easy nightcap in the evening, here are the best Irish coffees in L.A.
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Where to find the best Irish coffee in L.A.
Here is what we love about the Auld Dubliner: The menu doesn’t dabble in Irish dishes an drinks, it full-on embraces them. Though the Traditional Irish Coffee may be made with locally roasted coffee—as well Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, demerara sugar, freshly whipped cream and nutmeg—it will make you feel like you’re having a drink in Ireland. Stop in throughout the week for live music, dominated by Celtic “Shamrockabilly” artists for an even more authentic feel.
Even if you’ve never been to Casey’s, you’re probably familiar with the sprawling, dark-wood-everything bar: It’s served as the set for just about every pub-focused scene on television in the last 20 years. The traditional hot Irish coffee is fantastic here, but their Irish Hello is just as enticing. Made with Jameson Irish Whiskey, iced coffee, demerara syrup and angostura-spiced cream, it’s a cooler version that combats sweltering L.A. afternoons spent Downtown.
At this spacious country tavern, grand iron chandeliers and wall lamps illuminate British paraphernalia on the walls, red leather booths and two dark wood-paneled bars and dining room. A friendly and helpful staff serve up a full bar of beer, wine, spirits and a stellar selection of specialty cocktails, including the Coffee Nudgie. This drink takes some liberties with a more traditional Irish coffee, using Jack Daniels, hot coffee, Galliano Ristretto and whipped cream. They have a solid original version, too, if you can’t get past the Jack Daniels.
Opened in 2007, Seven Grand is arguably the city’s premiere destination for whiskey lovers; its atmosphere is of another era, one where hard-drinking businessmen escaped the doldrums of suburban existence and hung up their hats to drink, smoke and play pool away from the prying eyes of their wives and children. You can ask for a hot Irish coffee any day of the week, but keep an eye out for their iced coffee version, which uses Jameson whiskey, house coldbrew, cream and sugar. It’s sweet, refreshing and strong all at once—and gives you enough liquid courage to challenge a stranger to a pool match.
Tom Bergin’s claims it introduced the Irish coffee to Los Angeles, but it had a little help. Joe Sheridan invented the cocktail at Shannon International Airport in Ireland in 1938. Years later, in 1952, travel writer Stanton Delaplane brought the recipe back to San Francisco’s Buena Vista Café—then shared it with Tom Bergin’s a few weeks later. Today, the Irish pub uses Tullamore D.E.W. whiskey in its version, resulting in a smooth, creamy cocktail with a serious kick. During St. Patrick’s Day, the pub’s over-the-top party tends to crank out thousands of Irish coffees every year, but you can enjoy an excellent one every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
Talk about teamwork! Menotti’s coffee shop and Townhouse are neighbors, so it’s no surprise that they’re happy to share customers. Grab some Four Barrel coffee at Menotti’s and bring it over to Townhouse, where you can get it spiked with Irish whiskey, coffee liqueur, whipped cream, syrup and nutmeg.
Those looking for a sweeter taste of the Irish can head to 189 by Dominique Ansel, sitting pretty in the Grove, where their bar makes its own Irish cream. Downstairs in the bakery you can always find fresh-made cookie shots lined with chocolate and filled with Tahitian vanilla milk, but upstairs in the restaurant, you can sip the grown-up version. Enjoy the cool blend of whiskey, cream, condensed milk and a bit of cocoa powder, all served in a warm cookie—drink the Irish cream, bite the cookie, repeat.