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Here are the secrets for the best Irish Coffee: Dissolve brown sugar in whiskey, add boiling-hot coffee, and float a layer of barely-whipped, frothy cream on top. Anything else and it’s just not right.

A tray with Irish Coffee and a bottle of Jameson Irish whiskey.

If you didn’t learn your Irish Coffee from the Irish, chances are you’re doing it all wrong. Most people add coffee to a [warmed] glass, stir in some sugar, and top it off with whipped cream. To increase the insult, add some chocolate shavings!

The real deal involves a ritual of stirring brown sugar into the whiskey, adding boiling coffee to ensure the sugar is dissolved, and then floating a layer of soft, aerated heavy cream on top.

To complete the experience, sip the boiling-hot coffee through the frothy cream, trying not to burn your mouth while you do so, and enjoy your morning.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Irish Coffee Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Irish coffee.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Heavy cream: Look for 50% to 60% heavy cream. You want to whip it just enough that it will float on top of the coffee when poured over the back of a chilled spoon.
  • Irish whiskey: Jameson or Paddy’s Irish whiskey are best. Bushmills is a little too sharp for Irish coffee.
  • Coffee: The coffee needs to be HOT in order to dissolve the brown sugar completely. 

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a small bowl, add heavy cream and beat until soft peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes.
A bowl of whipped cream.
  1. In the bottom of a mug, add whiskey.
Making Irish coffee in a glass.
  1. Add brown sugar and stir to dissolve.
Making Irish coffee in a glass.
  1. Top with hot coffee.
Making Irish coffee in a glass.
  1. Pour the thickened cream over the back of a chilled spoon so it floats on top of the coffee.
Pouring foam on Irish Coffee.

6. Serve boiling hot.

A glass of Irish Coffee.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: Each recipe makes 1 drink and should not be made in big batches.
  • Glassware: An Irish Coffee mug is great, but if all else fails, just choose something clear.
A tray with Irish Coffee and a bottle of Jameson Irish whiskey.

Recipe FAQs

What does Irish Coffee taste like?

Thanks to the whiskey and brown sugar, Irish Coffee tastes like a sweet, boozy coffee drink with a layer of cream on top.

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A tray with Irish Coffee and a bottle of Jameson Irish whiskey.

Irish Coffee

Here are the secrets for the best Irish Coffee: Dissolve brown sugar in whiskey, add boiling-hot coffee, and float a layer of barely-whipped, frothy cream on top.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 3 mins
Cook Time 2 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings 1 serving
Course Drinks
Cuisine Irish
Calories 325

Ingredients 

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream chilled (see note 1)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey (3 tablespoons, see note 2)
  • 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 4 ounces freshly brewed coffee hot (see note 3)

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl, add heavy cream and beat until soft peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • In the bottom of a mug, add whiskey. Add brown sugar and stir to dissolve.
  • Top with hot coffee. Pour the thickened cream over the back of a chilled spoon so it floats on top of the coffee.

Notes

  1. Heavy cream: Look for 50% to 60% heavy cream. You want to whip it just enough that it will float on top of the coffee when poured over the back of a chilled spoon.
  2. Irish whiskey: Jameson or Paddy’s Irish whiskey are best. Bushmills is a little too sharp for Irish coffee.
  3. Coffee: The coffee needs to be HOT in order to dissolve the brown sugar completely. 
  4. Yield: Each recipe makes 1 drink and should not be made in big batches.
  5. Glassware: An Irish Coffee mug is great, but if all else fails, just choose something clear. 

Nutrition

Serving: 8ouncesCalories: 325kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 2gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 19mgPotassium: 118mgSugar: 6gVitamin A: 875IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 45mgIron: 1mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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