Almost every week new products are launched, restaurants are opened, bargain offers and press releases pour onto my desk – I can rarely attend and sometimes I scarcely manage to glance at the details, depending on how hectic things are. A recent press release from Bord Bia sent directly for my attention, announced that “The Hot Irishman scoops Gold in the ‘Oscars’ of the Airline and Catering Industry.”
For the first time an Irish company has just been awarded the much coveted Gold Mercury Award in the Food or Beverage Products category at the International Flight Catering Association Annual Conference and Trade Show (IFCA) in Barcelona for the Hot Irishman, an Irish coffee in a bottle. The Hot Irishman was one of six companies which exhibited under the Board Bia ‘Ireland The Food Island’ banner at IFCA.
This is the first time an Irish product is in receipt of the Gold Mercury Award, Michael Duffy, Chief Executive of Board Bia was understandably delighted. ‘This award is considered the most prestigious for innovation, quality of application and customer satisfaction. It is eagerly sought after by many of the best catering companies in the world.’ I vaguely glanced over the blurb, thought that’s terrific, sounds like another runner to join the prestigious Irish beverage stable and dumped it in the bin and promptly forgot about it. Just as I finished my cooking demonstration a few days later, I was told that Mr. Walsh who made the Hot Irishman was waiting to see me. Turns out he’s married to one of ‘my babies’ as I affectionately call my past students, but of course I hadn’t recognised the name because I knew her as Rosemary Mulhall and she has since become Rosemary Walsh.
The Hot Irishman is the brainchild of this creative couple. Basically, it’s a brilliantly simple concept – a blend of Irish Coffee in a bottle, that can be used to make a perfect hassle-free Irish Coffee anywhere in the world. Simple though it sounds it took several years of research to perfect the formula. Great care has been taken to use only the finest Colombian coffee, Irish whiskey and golden brown Irish sugar. The blending process used ensures that the cream will sit on top and the result is a luxurious Irish Coffee of consistent flavour and texture. According to Bernard they got their inspiration when Rosemary changed career from that of a software engineer in London to attend a 3-month course at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Since then Rosemary’s life has taken a whole new twist. With the help of the Cookery School Rosemary secured a “job” (in hindsight a holiday!) running a ski chalet in Meribel, France. It was here that Rosemary perfected the art of making Irish Coffees. Every night following a “Ballymaloe special” dinner, Rosemary would make Irish Coffee for all of her guests. It was her signature, and one the guests eagerly looked forward to. However, making 20 or 30 Irish Coffees at 11 o’clock at night was a challenge at the best of times. Just when the last morsel of food had been eaten and the kitchen was ship shape for the following day’s work, Rosemary just wanted to collapse into the couch. Making Irish Coffees can be fun but only if you have the right ingredients and a lot of patience.
To complicate matters even further, when Bernard helped out at weekends the guests commented that the Irish Coffee didn’t taste the same. At that point they recognised the opportunity to make a product to simplify the making of Irish Coffee. Back home in Carlow when her season in Meribel was finished, Rosemary produced the very first Hot Irishman in her home in Castlemore. Encouraged by these trials, the Walshs worked for nine months with an independent drinks’ laboratory in Dublin. Following endless days and nights of tasting many different whiskey, coffee and sugar combinations, they arrived at the perfect balance of a dark roasted Colombian coffee, a smooth single malt Irish Whiskey, and golden brown Carlow sugar. Before the recipe was finally accepted the Irish Coffee was tested by hundreds of people from over 31 countries. The naming of the product was just as much fun. Rather than pay thousands to some marketing company, Rosemary and Bernard involved a circle of 20 friends and family to brainstorm and after a long night of sampling! The Hot Irishman was born. The company was formed in June 1999 and Rosemary left her job to concentrate on building the family business. Meanwhile on the 31st of December 1999 her daughter Isobel was born. This was the catalyst, which convinced Bernard to give up his job on the international software market and return home to take responsibility for developing the markets for the Hot Irishman while Rosemary concentrated on the production and operations side of the business. They have never looked back since. So now isn’t that an exciting story. So where can you find it – well its already being served in over 200 outlets, hotels, restaurants, food led bars and getting a fantastic reaction. Things are also happening in the US, UK and Spain which has the biggest consumption of Irish Coffee in Europe – Irish coffee is served in 70% of all café bars in major cities. This recent Airline and Catering Industry Award has been a huge bonus. The product got a tremendous response from the airline industry because its one of the few after dinner drinks that most airlines would love to serve but could not. Traditionally there are five steps involved in making Irish Coffee on board, but that’s five steps too many for busy cabin crew, the Hot Irishman has reduced the process to one simple task similar to making tea or coffee. Trials are already taking place on some of the world’s largest carriers so look out for The Hot Irishman next time you are out on the town or airborne.
Irish Coffee Meringue
2 egg whites
41/2 ozs (125g\generous 1 cup) icing sugar
2 teasp. instant coffee powder (not granules)
1/2 pint (300ml\11/4 cups) whipped cream
2 tablesp. (2 American tablesp. + 2 teasp.) approx. Irish whiskey or Hot Irishman to taste.
Chocolate coffee beans
Silicone paper – Bakewell
Draw 2 x 71/2 inch (18cm) circles onto a sheet of silicone paper. Then turn them over so the pencil or pen doesn’t mark the meringue. Put the egg whites into a spotlessly clean and dry bowl. Add all the icing sugar except 2 tablespoons. Whisk until the mixture stands in firm dry peaks. It may take 10-15 minutes. Sieve the coffee with the remaining icing sugar together and fold in carefully. Spread the meringue carefully with a palette knife onto the circles on the silicone paper. Bake in a very low oven 150C\300F\regulo 2 for approx. 1 hour or until crisp. The discs should peel easily from the paper. Allow to get quite cold. Add the whiskey or Hot Irishman to the whipped cream. Sandwich the meringue discs together with Irish whiskey flavoured cream. Pipe 5 rosettes of cream on top. Decorate with chocolate coffee beans if available.
Irish Coffee Meringue Roulade
Ingredients as above
Swiss roll tin 12 inches x 8 inches (30.5cm x 20.5cm) lined with silicone paper
Make the meringue as above.
Meanwhile, line a swiss roll tin with tin foil, brush lightly with a non scented oil (eg. sunflower or arachide)
Spread the meringue gently over the tin with a palette knife, it ought to be quite thick and bouncy. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Put a sheet of tin foil on the work – top and turn the roulade onto it, remove the base tin foil and allow the meringue to cool.
Spread the whiskey cream over the meringue, roll up from the long side and carefully ease onto a serving plate. Pipe 6 –8 rosettes along the top of the roulade, decorate with chocolate coffee beans.
Serve, cut into slices about 1 inch (2.5cm) thick.