Irish Coffee Cocktail Drink

Irish Coffee

A shot of Gavin Wrigley looking to the camera in a dimly lit room
Written by Gavin Wrigley
Andrea
Tested by
Andrea Ottaiano
4 from 1 vote

This Irish Coffee recipe blends all the ingredients to create an extraordinary drink. It’s easy to prepare, and the outcome is excellent.

Irish Coffee Recipe

Warm up with this simple Irish Coffee recipe! Made with Irish whiskey, hot coffee, brown sugar, and a float of cream. This cocktail is a winter must-have.

Prep time:

2 minutes

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

220 kl

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz Irish Whiskey
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 6 oz hot coffee
  • 1 oz heavy cream
  • Coffee beans, garnish

Equipment

  • Irish Coffee Mug or Warm Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Spoon
  • Whisk or Frother for Cream

Instructions

  • Prep Mug: Warm your Irish coffee mug with hot water. Empty the water after a minute.
  • Add Sugar: Place 1 tsp brown sugar into the mug.
  • Pour Whiskey: Measure and pour 1 1/2 oz Irish Whiskey into the mug.
  • Add Coffee: Pour 6 oz hot coffee into the mug, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  • Whip Cream: Lightly whip 1 oz heavy cream until it thickens slightly.
  • Float Cream: Gently float the whipped cream on the coffee by pouring it over the back of a spoon.
  • Garnish: Place two coffee beans on top.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Irish Whiskey: You can use bourbon or Scotch if you don't have Irish whiskey. I've tried both, and while they change the drink's character, they still make for a delicious Irish Coffee.
  • Brown Sugar: White sugar or a sugar substitute like Stevia works without brown sugar. The flavor profile changes, but it's still tasty.
  • Heavy Cream: Half-and-half or whole milk can work in a pinch. They won't offer the same luxurious texture, but they get the job done.

Making a Pitcher:

  • Scale: To make a pitcher that serves 8, multiply all the ingredients by 8. That would be 12 oz of Irish whiskey, 8 teaspoons of brown sugar, 48 oz of hot coffee, and 8 oz of heavy cream.
  • Mix: In a large pitcher, combine the Irish whiskey, brown sugar, and hot coffee. Stir well to dissolve the sugar.
  • Serve: Pour the mixture into individual pre-warmed Irish coffee mugs, float the whipped cream on top, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Irish Whiskey Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic whiskey substitute or even a splash of apple juice for a fruity twist.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use these non-alcoholic substitutes instead of the regular ingredients, follow the original steps, and enjoy a non-alcoholic version.

Making it Vegan:

  • Heavy Cream Substitute: Use a vegan alternative like coconut or oat cream. Whip it lightly, just as you would with dairy cream.
  • Brown Sugar: Ensure your brown sugar is vegan. Some brands use bone char in the refining process. Look for brands that specify they are vegan-friendly.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
220
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
10
g
15
%
Saturated Fat
 
7
g
44
%
Sodium
 
12
mg
1
%
Carbohydrates
 
5
g
2
%
Sugar
 
5
g
6
%
Potassium
 
116
mg
3
%
Cholesterol
 
32
mg
11
%
Protein
 
1
g
2
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
0.5
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
3
g
Vitamin A
 
417
IU
8
%
Vitamin C
 
0.2
mg
0
%
Calcium
 
25
mg
3
%
Iron
 
0.1
mg
1
%

 

Irish Coffee Cocktail Drink

Irish Coffee Recipe

Gavin Wrigley Written by Gavin Wrigley
4 from 1 vote
Jump to Video
Warm up with this simple Irish Coffee recipe! Made with Irish whiskey, hot coffee, brown sugar, and a float of cream. This cocktail is a winter must-have.
Prep time: 2 minutes
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 220

Ingredients
 

  • 1 1/2 oz Irish Whiskey
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 6 oz hot coffee
  • 1 oz heavy cream
  • Coffee beans - garnish

Equipment

  • Irish Coffee Mug or Warm Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Spoon
  • Whisk or Frother for Cream

Instructions

  • Prep Mug: Warm your Irish coffee mug with hot water. Empty the water after a minute.
  • Add Sugar: Place 1 tsp brown sugar into the mug.
  • Pour Whiskey: Measure and pour 1 1/2 oz Irish Whiskey into the mug.
  • Add Coffee: Pour 6 oz hot coffee into the mug, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  • Whip Cream: Lightly whip 1 oz heavy cream until it thickens slightly.
  • Float Cream: Gently float the whipped cream on the coffee by pouring it over the back of a spoon.
  • Garnish: Place two coffee beans on top.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Irish Whiskey: You can use bourbon or Scotch if you don't have Irish whiskey. I've tried both, and while they change the drink's character, they still make for a delicious Irish Coffee.
  • Brown Sugar: White sugar or a sugar substitute like Stevia works without brown sugar. The flavor profile changes, but it's still tasty.
  • Heavy Cream: Half-and-half or whole milk can work in a pinch. They won't offer the same luxurious texture, but they get the job done.

Making a Pitcher:

  • Scale: To make a pitcher that serves 8, multiply all the ingredients by 8. That would be 12 oz of Irish whiskey, 8 teaspoons of brown sugar, 48 oz of hot coffee, and 8 oz of heavy cream.
  • Mix: In a large pitcher, combine the Irish whiskey, brown sugar, and hot coffee. Stir well to dissolve the sugar.
  • Serve: Pour the mixture into individual pre-warmed Irish coffee mugs, float the whipped cream on top, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Irish Whiskey Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic whiskey substitute or even a splash of apple juice for a fruity twist.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use these non-alcoholic substitutes instead of the regular ingredients, follow the original steps, and enjoy a non-alcoholic version.

Making it Vegan:

  • Heavy Cream Substitute: Use a vegan alternative like coconut or oat cream. Whip it lightly, just as you would with dairy cream.
  • Brown Sugar: Ensure your brown sugar is vegan. Some brands use bone char in the refining process. Look for brands that specify they are vegan-friendly.

What is an Irish Coffee?

Irish Coffee, a cocktail that combines Irish whiskey, hot coffee, brown sugar, and a layer of cream, originated from Ireland and has gained global popularity, particularly as a comforting choice in colder weather. Additionally, it is recognized as an official cocktail by the International Bartenders Association (IBA).

A side shot of a Irish Coffee in a mug on a wooden table surrounded by coffee beans, a jigger and a bar spoon, in front of a white wall.

What is an Irish Coffee made of – The ingredients

To concoct an Irish Coffee, here’s what you’ll require:

  • Irish Whiskey: Adds the warming, alcoholic kick, and distinct Irish character to the drink.
  • Hot Coffee: Serves as the base, providing both flavor and warmth.
  • Brown Sugar: Sweetens the coffee and complements the whiskey.
  • Heavy Cream: Floats on top, adding a creamy texture and visual contrast.

Irish whiskey, coffee and heavy cream laid out on a white bar table.

How to make a Irish Coffee

Discover the steps to create an Irish Coffee with our comprehensive guide:

1
<p>Warm your Irish coffee mug with hot water, then empty it after a minute.</p>

Warm your Irish coffee mug with hot water, then empty it after a minute.

2
<p>Place a teaspoon of brown sugar into the mug.</p>

Place a teaspoon of brown sugar into the mug.

3
<p>Measure and pour 1½ oz of Irish whiskey into the mug.</p>

Measure and pour 1½ oz of Irish whiskey into the mug.

4
<p>Pour 6 oz of hot coffee into the mug.</p>

Pour 6 oz of hot coffee into the mug.

5
<p>Stir to dissolve the brown sugar.</p>

Stir to dissolve the brown sugar.

6
<p>Lightly whip 1 oz of heavy cream just until it thickens slightly and gently float the whipped cream on the coffee by pouring it over the back of a spoon.</p>

Lightly whip 1 oz of heavy cream just until it thickens slightly and gently float the whipped cream on the coffee by pouring it over the back of a spoon.

7
<p>Garnish with coffee beans.</p>

Garnish with coffee beans.

8
<p>Enjoy your Irish Coffee!</p>

Enjoy your Irish Coffee!

What is the difference between Baileys Coffee and Irish Coffee?

Irish Coffee and Baileys Coffee are warm, comforting beverages but differ in key ways. First, Irish Coffee uses Irish whiskey for its alcoholic kick, while Baileys Coffee employs Baileys Irish Cream. The use of Baileys adds a creamier, sweeter taste to the coffee. Second, Irish Coffee traditionally includes a layer of lightly whipped heavy cream floating on top. In contrast, Baileys Coffee often mixes the Irish cream directly into the coffee, eliminating the need for a separate cream layer. Finally, Irish Coffee incorporates brown sugar to sweeten the drink, whereas Baileys Coffee usually relies on the sweetness of the Irish Cream itself.

A Irish Coffee cocktail in a mug, shot from above, surrounded by coffee beans, a jigger and a bar spoon on a wooden table.

Is Irish Coffee a Rum or a Whiskey?

When making Irish Coffee, the traditional choice is, of course, Irish whiskey. But rum can be an alternative if you’re in the mood to switch things up. A dark rum like Mount Gay or Kraken brings a sweeter, molasses-like flavor that pairs surprisingly well with coffee. 

What is the best Whiskey for an Irish Coffee?

When making a Irish Coffee you’ll want a whiskey that’s smooth but still brings enough character to stand up to the coffee and sugar. Jameson is a go-to for many, offering a balanced profile with light floral and fruity notes. If you’re looking for something richer, Redbreast 12 brings a fuller body with hints of dried fruit and spice. For a budget-friendly option that doesn’t skimp on quality, Powers Gold Label delivers a robust, spicy kick that pairs well with coffee. But if you ask me, you can go right with Bushmills Original. It’s smooth, slightly sweet, and has just the right amount of complexity to elevate your drink without overpowering it.

A side shot of a Irish Coffee in a mug on a wooden table surrounded by coffee beans, a jigger, some plant leaves and a bar spoon, in front of a white wall.

Variations

Looking for unique and different twists? Check out these favorites of ours:

  • Spanish Coffee: This enticing blend replaces Irish whiskey with Spanish brandy, and sometimes a hint of rum. The Spanish brandy offers a smoother, more complex flavor profile, infusing the drink with a distinct richness. I enjoy the depth that the brandy brings; it creates a sophisticated and warming experience.
  • Irish Cream Coffee: This delightful twist substitutes Irish whiskey with Irish cream liqueur, making the concoction creamier and slightly sweeter. The Irish cream liqueur adds a velvety texture and a hint of vanilla. I appreciate the creamy smoothness it provides; it’s like a comforting, sweet hug in a mug.
  • Iced Irish Coffee: A refreshing choice for warmer days, this version is served over ice. The coolness of the ice perfectly balances the warmth of the coffee and whiskey, creating an invigorating beverage. The contrast between the hot and cold elements always intrigues me; it’s a perfect pick-me-up on a sunny afternoon.
  • Bourbon Irish Coffee: In this unique twist, bourbon replaces Irish whiskey, lending a sweeter, caramel-like flavor. The bourbon adds a touch of Southern charm, enhancing the coffee’s robustness with its rich, sweet notes. I’m captivated by the way bourbon complements the coffee; it brings a comforting sweetness that’s hard to resist.
  • Vegan Irish Coffee: This plant-based option ensures both the cream and sugar are vegan-friendly. The essence of the original is preserved while accommodating dairy-free preferences. The plant-based cream adds a light, airy texture, making it a guilt-free indulgence that I often prefer for its lighter feel.
  • Espresso Irish Coffee: Here, a shot of espresso replaces regular coffee, intensifying the overall flavor. The espresso adds an extra jolt of caffeine, making this a more robust, energizing beverage. The strong espresso flavor is something I look forward to; it provides an instant lift and a deeper coffee taste.
  • Decaf Irish Coffee: Catering to those who love the flavor without the caffeine kick, decaffeinated coffee is used. This option allows enjoyment of the classic taste any time of the day, without affecting sleep or caffeine intake. I find this ideal for late evenings when I crave the taste but not the wakefulness that regular coffee brings.

A Irish Coffee cocktail in a mug, shot from above, surrounded by coffee beans, a jigger, some plant leaves and a bar spoon on a wooden table.

History and Origins

The Irish Coffee cocktail has roots in Ireland, specifically at Foynes Airbase near Limerick, in the 1940s. A chef and bartender, Joe Sheridan, is credited with creating this warming drink. He aimed to warm up a group of American passengers who had just arrived on a cold winter night from a transatlantic flight. He added Irish whiskey to hot coffee, sweetened it with sugar, and topped it off with cream.

The drink quickly gained popularity and made its way across the Atlantic. In 1952, a travel writer, Stanton Delaplane, brought the recipe to the United States. He introduced it to Jack Koeppler, the owner of the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco. Together, they worked to perfect the cream-floating technique, making the drink a staple in American bars and cafes.

Since then, the drink has become a global phenomenon, enjoyed in various forms and variations worldwide.

A side shot of a Irish Coffee in a mug on a wooden table surrounded by coffee beans, a jigger, some plant leaves and a bar spoon, in front of a white wall.

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FAQ

How many calories are in an Irish Coffee?
The beverage contains approximately 200-250 calories, depending on the type and amount of cream and sugar used.
How strong is an Irish Coffee in terms of ABV and proof?
The strength can vary but it usually has an ABV of around 9-13% and a proof of 18-26, depending on the whiskey used.
What type of alcohol is used in Irish Coffee?
Irish whiskey is the traditional alcohol
In which glass is Irish Coffee typically served?
It's usually served in a mug, a stemmed glass designed to hold hot and cold beverages.
What does Irish Coffee taste like?
It has a balanced flavor profile that combines the bitterness of coffee, the sweetness of sugar, and the warmth of whiskey, all under a creamy top layer.
What is the ratio of ingredients in Irish Coffee?
The general ratio is 1½ oz of Irish Whiskey, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, 6 oz of hot coffee, and 1 oz of heavy cream.
How is Irish Coffee served in terms of ice and temperature?
The drink is served hot, without ice. The cream floats on top, providing a cool contrast to the hot liquid below.
Is Irish Coffee good for digestion?
While not a medical remedy, many people find the warm coffee and whiskey soothing after a meal.

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