It’s National Irish Coffee Day: Warm Up with The Pierre Hotel’s Irish Coffee

It’s chilly here in Northeast, and throughout much of the country, so it’s a perfect time to celebrate National Irish Coffee Day.

 Its National Irish Coffee Day: Warm Up with The Pierre Hotels Irish Coffee

The Pierre Hotel’s Irish Coffee (photo by Nina Gallant for THE UNOFFICIAL MAD MEN COOKBOOK)

Our favorite version of this mid-century creation is from the Pierre Hotel, and we’re happy to share it.

From The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin (SmartPop, 2011)

Pierre Hotel’s Irish Coffee
Season 1, Episode 6, “Babylon”

It doesn’t take long for Don Draper and Rachel Menken, the daughter and heir apparent of a Jewish department store owner, to become romantically involved. But the romance ends abruptly when Don asks her to run away with him and she refuses. Eager to see her again, Don calls asking to meet, saying it’s strictly business and that he wouldn’t have called unless it was urgent. Rachel reluctantly agrees to meet Don for “just lunch” and tells him to meet her the next day at the Tea Room in the Pierre Hotel.

The famed Pierre on East 61st Street, now part of the Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, is the setting for several memorable scenes in Mad Men. It’s where Peggy and Duck Phillips have a tryst (Season 3, Episode 7, “Seven Twenty-Three”), and when the principals of Sterling Cooper maneuver to start their new agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, they temporarily set up shop in Room 435 of the Pierre (Season 3, Episode 13, “Shut the Door, Have a Seat”).

Don tries to charm Rachel when they meet in the Tea Room, but she reminds him sternly that he said he had urgent business to discuss. To underscore her determination to keep the meeting strictly business, she orders only coffee. “Irish coffee?” asks Don, hoping to take the chill out of their encounter. “Coffee,” she replies.

That the Tea Room at the Pierre served Irish coffee may have been one of the fruits of an advertising push that started in 1956 to market Irish whiskey in the United States. As the New York Times reported on October 2, 1956, a reception at the Irish Products Center on East 50th Street featured representatives from five of Ireland’s biggest distillers and an Irish singer and television personality, Carmel Quinn, who “explained that Irish coffee consists of hot coffee, with sugar and Irish whiskey, topped by whipped cream.”

Simple to describe; not as easy to make. According to Andrew Smith, editor of The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink (Oxford University Press, 2007), Irish coffee was purportedly invented in 1943 by Joe Sheridan, the chef at the airport in Limerick, Ireland, to soothe exhausted New York–bound passengers whose flight had to return to Limerick because of bad weather. A passenger on the flight brought the recipe back to San Francisco, where he and Jack Koeppler, a bartender at the Buena Vista Hotel, tried to re-create it. At first, the whipped cream kept sinking to the bottom, but then Koeppler eventually met Sheridan and learned the secret: “The coffee must be lightly sweetened, the cream must be both fresh and softly whipped, and the cream must be poured into the hot coffee over the back of a spoon.”

The Pierre of the early 1960s, as you would expect, looked quite different than the Pierre of today, especially since undergoing a $100 million renovation in 2009. The Tea Room is gone, but the hotel’s elegant Two E Bar/Lounge still serves what it calls a “Classic Irish Coffee,” and graciously shared the recipe with us. If Rachel and Don were to meet at the Pierre today, we’d definitely recommend she indulge in the Irish coffee. You don’t need to be Irish to love Irish coffee!

Pierre Hotel’s Irish Coffee

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 drink

 Its National Irish Coffee Day: Warm Up with The Pierre Hotels Irish Coffee

Delicious Irish Coffee from THE UNOFFICIAL MAD MEN COOKBOOK by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin courtesy of The Pierre Hotel, New York, New York, as referenced in Season 1 of Mad Men, when Don Draper and Rachel Menken meet at the Pierre Hotel.


  • 2 ounces Irish Whiskey (see note)
  • 3 ½ teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 4 ounces hot coffee
  • Whipped cream, for topping


  1. Stir whiskey, brown sugar and coffee together in a mug. Add whipped cream on top.


Note: The Pierre Hotel uses Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey, but says the drink also works well with John Jameson Irish Whiskey. Any variety of whiskey made in Ireland would suffice, hence the name “Irish Coffee.”

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Are you ready for Season 6? Try some Mad Men Trivia!

25539 banner geekswhodrink625 300x144 Are you ready for Season 6? Try some Mad Men Trivia!

Geeks Who Drink offers a challenging Mad Men trivia night

Ready for Mad Men’s Season 6 this spring? Then whet your appetite for the upcoming season with a Mad Men trivia night. To celebrate the Season 5 finale, The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook authors, editor Leah Wilson and Mad Men trivia hound Josh Benton, took on other Mad Men fans in a trivia battle sponsored by Geeks Who Drink at Common Ground in Allston, Massachusetts. Our team, The Blankenships (named for one of Don’s many secretaries), duked it out with teams such as Roger in the Sky with Diamonds and Sterling Cooper Draper Holloway. The Blankenships, even with our advanced Mad Men culinary knowledge, were only hanging in because of Josh’s extraordinary memory.

IMG 3608 300x177 Are you ready for Season 6? Try some Mad Men Trivia!

The Blankenships captured 5th place

The Blankenships went in confident, were in second place for a while, but were soon trailing in 5th place, where we landed at the end of the night. But we we glad we could offer a prize — a copy of our cookbook — to second place winners, Tim Gilman and Lauren Feinberg!


IMG 3609 283x300 Are you ready for Season 6? Try some Mad Men Trivia!

Second place winners Roger in the Sky with Diamonds, a/k/a Tim and Lauren, took home The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook.

To help refresh your memory for Mad Men Season 6,  Geeks Who Drink generously shared a few trivia questions, all involving snarky Pete Campbell. Test your Pete Campbell IQ and send us your answers, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook.

What global event was going on when Betty discovered she IS pregnant, and Peggy told Pete that she WAS pregnant?

Roger and Don gave Pete a verbal beat-down after he pitched his “Backbone of America” idea to what client?

Finish Pete’s airplane joke: “Some of the passengers were on their way to a golf tournament. Apparently, the minute the plane hit, the bay turned BLANK.”

Questions courtesy of Geeks Who Drink.  Thanks to them for providing excellent Mad Men trivia, and see the event recap here.Comm