Irish Coffee

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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.

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: Killbeggan (reader-recommended!), 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.
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 serving
Course Drinks
Cuisine Irish
Calories 325
5 from 5 votes

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.

Recipe Video

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: Killbeggan (reader-recommended!), 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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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. I applaud Meggan for posting an authentic Irish Coffee. This is exactly how I was taught by a young lady who was born and raised in Ireland. Forget that Irish Cream and whiskey version. By the way a great Irish whisky for this is Killbeggan5 stars

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, BlarneyTalker! And thank you for the whisky recommendation! Take care! – Meggan