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The LAist Irish Coffee Drink-off
Just in time for St Paddy's Day, we check out some of the Irish coffees around town. Screw green beer. That stuff will kill you. After drinking many Irish Coffees in the name of serious scientific research, I have discovered a good Irish coffee relies on two relatively simple elements: the freshness of the coffee and use of real heavy cream
#1 Tom Bergin's
Tom Bergin's is known as the home of Irish coffee, at least in the United States. Others claim that distinction belongs to the Buena Vista of San Francisco. The coffee at Tom Bergin's was hot and fresh, without a trace of bitterness. They used Powers whiskey and such a thick float of cream I mistook it for Bailey's at first. I could drink these all night. It won by a mile. However, I suggest you stay the hell away from Tom Bergin's on St Patrick's unless you want to take your life into your hands. Even on a Saturday night, this bar is packed to the gills. If you are lucky, you can get valet parking and perch on an extremely uncomfortable bench around a square bar surrounded by the kind of people you try to avoid at work.
O'Briens in Santa Monica also uses fresh, fresh coffee and a generous float of cream. They have a variety of coffee drinks, using frangelico, brandy, and other liquers. There is plenty of comfortable seating, a full menu, and parking in back. It will also be a madhouse on St Pats. People will probably wander between O'Brien's and Sonny's.
#3 Seven Grand
This cozy home of Scottish kitsch serves up the standard Irish coffee, created by Joe Sheridan in 1942 at Foynes Airport, Ireland. Seven Grand uses the traditional "Power's Irish Whiskey, Coffee, and Fresh Whipping Cream, a-la-minute". The coffee was strong and fresh, and the cream was thick and rich. They did not add sugar, so I asked for a little simple syrup, which made the drink perfection.
#4 The Golden Gopher
The Gopher uses Jamesons because they don't carry Powers. A fresh pot of coffee was brewed just for me and there was a nice float of cream on top. When I asked for a little sugar, the bartender also knowingly gave me simple syrup rather than a clump of sugar. And you've gotta love the gopher lamps.
#5 Molly Malones
Molly's was deserted on the Friday night we went there. So there was plenty of parking. But again, any bar with an Irish name is going to be out of control. The coffee was slightly burnt, and it was much less creamy than Tom Bergin's. They also use Powers. It was a split decision, though, as my friend preferred this version to Tom Bergin's - probably because they poured with a much heavier hand.
At least this place is big enough to handle the St Pat's crowd coming their way. The overflow patio will definitely come in handy. The coffee was burnt-tasting, and it was perhaps the strongest of the drinks with plenty of Jamesons. They asked if I wanted cream, and the drink was topped with a festive swirl of canned whipped cream. Unfortunately it didn't do much for the taste. Nothing beats real whipping cream.
And if you are impatient to get the party started, Caroline on Crack has rounded up some early-bird specials for you!
840 South Fairfax Avenue LA 90036
2226 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403
515 W 7th St Los Angeles, CA 90014
The Golden Gopher
417 W 8th St Los Angeles, CA 90014
575 South Fairfax Ave LA CA 90036
4089 Lincoln Boulevard Marina Del Rey 90292
Photo by Elise Thompson for LAist