Irish Coffee features sweetened hot coffee, Irish whiskey and soft whipped cream. It’s an easy, classic coffee cocktail that’s made in just a few minutes with 4 ingredients. Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!
Classic Irish coffee is made with just four ingredients: freshly brewed coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and soft hand whipped cream. Yes, you’re reading this right – there’s no Bailey’s in the original, proper Irish coffee. Many people expect it to have Baileys because most chain restaurants serve it that way, but that’s only to make it easier to toss together.
The origins of this heartwarming cocktail go back to 1942 Ireland. Chef Joe Sheridan of a famous terminal restaurant in Foynes whipped up a batch (or 20) of hot coffee cocktails for stranded and cold passengers. Due to severe and story weather, a plane headed to United States had to turn around and go back to Foynes.
Anticipating the passengers to be tired and cold, the Chef whipped up hot sweet coffees and mixed them with whiskey and cream. It was obviously a huge hit and spread around the world famously and has been keeping people warm ever since.
Coffee – It’s best to have a nice strong coffee to go with the thick layer of cream, sugar and whiskey. No weak coffee in this cocktail!
Sugar – I love using brown sugar. It adds a light hint of molasses to the cocktail.
Whiskey – Of course, go with an Irish whiskey like Jameson, Tullamore D.E.W., Dead Rabbit, Bushmills, or any other one you prefer.
Cream – Before you think it’s too much work, definitely go with a hand whipped soft whipped cream on top of coffee. I like to add a pinch of sugar to the whipped cream so it’s even more pleasant to sip. Hand whipping takes a small bowl and a few minutes of your time.
See recipe card for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
How to Make Irish Coffee
Add whiskey. Pour the whiskey into your favorite glass/mug (1). Add the sugar to the glass as well.
Add coffee. Pour the warm, strong coffee into the glass (2). Stir to melt the sugar.
Add cream. This is the fun part! Spoon the soft whipped cream onto the spiked coffee (3). Cheers!
PRO TIP: Make your own whipped cream! Make sure the whipping cream is cold and straight out of the fridge when you’re ready to whip it. Pour heavy whipping cream into a mixing bowl, add a pinch of sugar, and whip it with a whisk. Continue to whip it until soft peaks appear.
You can use store-bought dairy free whipped cream to top off your Irish coffee! If you try to whip milk alternatives at home, it won’t work because there is not enough fat to simply whip it with a whisk.
If you do want to make homemade dairy free whipped cream, you have to get plant based heavy whipping cream like Silk, Califia, or Country Crock. Note that those products are not always readily available, but you can talk to your grocery store to see if they can order it for you.
Since this is an Irish coffee, using Irish whiskey is the most appropriate. Some Irish Whiskey brands include Jameson, Tullamore D.E.W., Dead Rabbit, Bushmills, and more. If you simply don’t like the taste of Irish whiskey, you can always use your favorite whiskey or bourbon in the drink!
Simply put, without alcohol, this is just a coffee with whipped cream. So yes, you can omit the whiskey and enjoy a cup of coffee!
The difference is simple, one has Bailey’s Irish cream and the one Irish whiskey. Irish Coffee is a classic hot cocktail made with Irish cream, coffee, sugar, and homemade whipped cream. Bailey’s coffee is a variation of Irish coffee where you substitute Irish whiskey for Irish cream.
Irish Coffee Variations To Try:
Bailey’s Irish Cream – This version is perhaps even more popular than the original. Try adding some Irish Cream (either homemade or store-bought) to this tasty coffee, and of course, keep the whiskey!
Kahlua – Many people have requested Irish coffee with and addition of Kahlua. Just remember Kahlua is sweet, so watch the sugar.
Maple – Use maple syrup instead of sugar. Yes, it is quite tasty!
Chocolate – You can add some chocolate flavor by adding chocolate liqueur or just chocolate syrup.
Extra Caffeinated – You can make a play of an Americano by combining coffee and espresso.
Decaf – To go in the opposite direction, use decaf coffee if it’s getting late in the evening.
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- 2 cups coffee
- 3 oz Irish whiskey
- 2-3 tsp brown sugar to taste
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- pinch white granulated sugar
- Make sure the whipping cream is cold and straight out of the fridge when you’re ready to whip it.
- Pour heavy whipping cream into a mixing bowl, add a pinch of sugar. Whip it vigorously with a whisk. Continue to whip it until soft peaks appear.
- Brew your favorite coffee but make it nice and strong.
- Divide whiskey among 2 mugs and add some sugar.
- Pour in hot coffee and stir until sugar is melted.
- Spoon soft-whipped cream over the top of each mug in a nice, thick layer.