There's no better way to toast a chilly St. Patrick's Day than with a traditional Irish coffee. But making it the proper way takes much more than simply adding whiskey to your brew.
At McPartlan's Corner (669 Wehrle Dr., Amherst), they have it down to a science. Mike McPartlan, who is third generation at the family-run restaurant, said they've been making them for decades and he wasn't shy about sharing the secret tips to the perfect Irish coffee - McPartlan's style.
Question: Can you tell me the step-by-step process to making the perfect Irish coffee?
McPartlan: First off all you need to warm the glass up and get a good Irish whiskey. We use a special mug at McPartlan's. We fill it with hot water and let it sit. Then we dump the water out. It warms up the glass.
We usually use Tullamore D.E.W. or Jameson and go with about an ounce and a quarter. Then add some sugar - that's the real key - and stir it up. Next we add fresh coffee and whipped cream. And to top it off, we use green creme de menthe, which is really unusual. It gives it a slight minty taste.
We've been doing this for years and years. Some places just serve whiskey and coffee. We like to make it a little special. It's McPartlan's way.
Q: I noticed you use Rich Products' On Top as the whipped cream. Why is that?
A: Absolutely. We try to support local businesses. And the other key is fresh coffee. We use McCullagh coffee and good whiskey - nothing more expensive than Tullamore D.E.W. or Jameson, but nothing any cheaper.
Q: How popular is the Irish coffee with customers?
A: We'll see a lot of people stopping for one on their way home; a lot of people order them as after-dinner drinks; and they are popular when it's cold out.
Q: Your dining room is decked out for St. Patrick's Day. Why is that tradition important to you?
A: We have one flag for each county in Ireland. Uncle Joe actually bought the flags over in Ireland. We have them out for the month of March. People love it.
Q: And I see a McPartlan's flag. Is that a county?
A: We made that one up. It's a McPartlan's flag to celebrate our name and Irish heritage.
Q: The dining room is packed. Is it always like that?
A: We'll get wall-to-wall people here for Lent. We serve fresh fish every day of the week, seven days a week, all-year long. We are open every day except for Christmas.
Q: You work as an attorney by day, but still help out at the restaurant. How different is that career?
A: Yes, I'm at attorney at law. I'm paying my way through bartending school by being an attorney [chuckles]. It's a family-run business and we all help out especially this time of year.