This Sunday is National Irish Coffee Day (yes, that’s a real thing), and the Dead Rabbit (30 Water Street, 646-422-7906) is celebrating in grand fashion. The inimitable FiDi watering hole is hosting five hours of frivolity, including live traditional Irish seisiún music, and a special visit from cocktail historian Dave Wondrich. And, oh yes, a free Jameson-laced Irish coffee just for walking in the door. I probably should have mentioned that first, yeah?
The cocktails start brewing at 5 p.m., while the flute and fiddled jigs of seisiún set the mood shortly thereafter. For those thumbing their nose at the drink of honor, the proud history and delectable flavor of a well-executed Irish coffee might warrant reconsideration. Wondrich, a professional imbiber of near-legendary stature, is effusive in his praise: “I love Irish coffee without reservation,” he says. “It’s one of those drinks that, when it’s made right, convinces you that there are such things as wholeness, harmony, and radiance in this world, and that occasionally they may be combined in the same object.”
He adds a bit of barroom trivia: “It’s a little-known fact that Joe Sheridan, who invented the drink in the early 1940s, later worked as a chef in Waikiki. This makes the Irish coffee a tiki drink, I suppose.” That’s but a small taste of the knowledge Wondrich is certain to drop this weekend.
His involvement on Sunday is owed to more than just his devotion to whiskey-spiked coffee. “I’ve known [co-owners] Sean [Muldoon] and Jack [McGarry] from the Dead Rabbit for a surprising number of years now,” he says. “And if they ask me to do something, I make a policy of saying yes, because I know it will be done to perfection and, more importantly, it will be fun.”
To the uninitiated, the Dead Rabbit is a bar from a bygone era. Encapsulating the vibe of late-nineteenth-century parlors that welcomed Irish immigrants straight off the boat, it’s a natural setting for Sunday’s celebration. What we named the Best New Bar of 2013 might also be the best bar in the city to knock back Jame-os and java. It might come as a surprise that Irish coffee has its own day; just don’t be shocked if you feel like celebrating all year long.