The perfect Irish Coffee recipe is the ultimate warming coffee cocktail for chilly nights and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations!
You simply can’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without an Irish Coffee, it just wouldn’t be right. And luckily it’s such an easy drink to make ~ just brew up some good black coffee, add a shot of Jameson or your favorite Irish whiskey, and top it off with some fresh whipped cream (sugar’s optional.) I’ll show you how to change it up with Irish Cream for a Baileys Coffee, and even make a Nutty Irishman, (my all time favorite winter cocktail!) That lingering warmth you get with a coffee cocktail is so unique and wonderful.
the legend of Irish Coffee
It’s believed that the first Irish coffee was created in the 1940s by a bartender named Joe Sheridan who worked at the Foynes Airbase in County Limerick, Ireland.
According to legend, on a particularly cold winter evening in 1942, a group of American passengers arrived at the airbase after their flight was canceled due to bad weather. Sheridan wanted to warm them up, so he added a shot of whiskey to their coffee and topped it off with whipped cream. Sheridan jokingly called it “Irish coffee”. The drink became an instant hit, and the rest is history!
ingredients in an Irish coffee cocktail
- hot coffee
- definitely go with decaf if you don’t do pm caffeine.
- Irish whiskey
- I used Jameson, but any whiskey will be delicious (see below for options.)
- brown sugar
- brown sugar adds a deep, rich flavor to the drink and complements the whiskey and coffee flavors well. This is optional, however, and I prefer not to use it.
- whipped cream
- I make whipped cream sweetened with powdered sugar that I whip to soft (not stiff) peaks.
- chocolate shavings
what’s the best Irish whiskey for Irish coffee?
When it comes to choosing the best Irish whiskey for Irish coffee, there are several options to consider depending on what you like and, of course, your budget. Here are a few common choices…
- Jameson Irish Whiskey ~ Jameson is by far the best selling whiskey, and it’s affordable, too, so it’s often used in Irish coffee. It has a smooth and balanced flavor with notes of vanilla and toasted wood. This is the whiskey I used for today’s recipe.
- Tullamore D.E.W. Original Irish Whiskey ~ Tullamore D.E.W. is a blended Irish whiskey that has a complex flavor profile with hints of citrus and spice. It is a great choice for those who want a whiskey that stands up to the bold flavors of coffee.
- Bushmills Original ~ Bushmills is a smooth and light Irish whiskey that is great for beginners. It has a mellow flavor that works well with the bitter notes of coffee.
how to float your whipped cream topping
The technique of floating is used to ensure that your whipped topping doesn’t sink down into your coffee, but rather floats on top. This technique involves using one spoon to hold the whipped topping and another spoon to gently slide the whipped topping off the first spoon and onto the surface of the cocktail, creating a layer of cream on top. It’s a nice little bartending technique to know about, and it’s handy for cocktails like Irish coffee, hot chocolate, and other creamy drinks.
variations on Irish coffee
This coffee cocktail is a classic, but the basic idea of spiking a cup of coffee is an idea you can run with in so many directions…
- Baileys coffee: Replace the Irish whiskey with Irish cream liqueur for a creamy indulgent variation. You can also use the Baileys in addition to the whiskey if you like.
- Nutty Irishman: Add a splash of hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico, to the classic Irish coffee recipe. This gives the drink a nutty, sweet flavor and is my favorite variation!
- Gaelic Coffee: Use brown sugar and add a dash of Drambuie liqueur for a warm and spicy flavor.
- Mexican coffee: Replace the Irish whiskey with tequila and the whipped cream with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
- Jamaican coffee: Replace the Irish whiskey with rum and the whipped cream with a sprinkle of nutmeg. This gives the drink a warm and spicy flavor.
- Spiced Irish coffee: Add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg to give it a cozy, spiced flavor.
- Iced Irish Coffee: your refreshing summertime Irish coffee.
- Frozen Irish Coffee: Blend the coffee, whiskey, sugar, and cream with ice ~ think Irish Frappucccino!
- Low ABV Irish Coffee: Reduce the whiskey to a tablespoon, which whill still be delicious while lowering the alcohol content of the drink.
tips to keep in mind
Use freshly brewed coffee for the best flavor.
Use brown sugar instead of white sugar for a richer flavor.
Use a clear, heat-resistant glass so you can see the layers of coffee and cream.
Don’t over-whip the cream. It should be light and pourable, not stiff.
To make the cream float on top, pour it slowly over the back of a spoon.
Don’t stir the cream into the coffee, it’s meant to be enjoyed with the layer of cream on top.
more favorite warm drinks
- 2 heat resistant glass mugs (buying options)
- 12 ounces fresh brewed hot coffee
- 6 Tbsp whiskey, there are 3 tablespoons in a standard shot of whiskey, which is 1.5 fluid ounces.
- sugar to sweeten, optional
- 1/2 cup whipped cream
- chocolate shavings
- Divide the hot coffee into 2 mugs and add the whiskey. If you are using sugar, stir it in to dissolve.
- Float whipped cream on top of the coffee, and grate some chocolate over the top. Enjoy immediately!