In Food

How to Make Irish Coffee

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, or as I like to call it – Irish Coffee time! I first discovered Irish coffees shortly out of college, when my former roommate dated and then married a first generation Irishman. After dinner at their house one night, he made us the most delicious coffee drink that not only highlighted the Jameson whiskey integral to its flavor, but introduced us to a new variation on whipping cream. Spooned onto the top of the coffee concoction, it somehow elevated this drink to a special treat that I have now returned to often.

Step 1 – The Glass:

Yes, you could serve Irish Coffees in any old mug, but if you want to be truly authentic you should use a clear footed glass or mug (if you want a handle). That way you can see the layers you’re creating and also the foot or stem makes this feel like a pretty special cocktail. 🙂 Start by heating your glass mug by filling it with hot water.

Step 2 – Whiskey and Sugar:

In my opinion, a perfect Irish coffee starts with brown sugar and Jameson whiskey. I will say that the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco – one of the original cafes to share Irish coffees in the U.S. – uses Tullamore Dew and they are pretty fantastic! So I guess I’ll more generally say that a perfect Irish coffee starts with Irish whiskey. No Jack Daniels, please! Pour out the hot water and put about a teaspoon of brown sugar in the bottom and a jigger of Jameson, stir to dissolve. (And no worries if you want a non-alcoholic version – you can leave out the whiskey and substitute brandy or rum flavoring or just drink the coffee with the whipped cream – still delicious!)


Step 3 – Coffee:

The coffee used for an Irish coffee is arbitrary. There is only one requirement, it must be freshly brewed. And because I usually drink flavored coffees, I can share that a Hazelnut variation can be wonderfully delicious! Pour the hot coffee over the whiskey/sugar combo and stir to combine.

Step 4 – Whipped Cream:

And now comes the best part. Whip 1/2 a pint of heavy whipping cream just until soft peaks form. And just add about a teaspoon of powdered sugar. The brown sugar dissolved in the coffee will give us plenty of sweetness.


Use two spoons to gently place the whipped cream on top of the coffee so that it rests like a hat. I know this takes a little bit of technique, but the end result is beautiful and key to a great Irish coffee.

Step 5 – Drink!

And now you get to drink it! Whipped cream mustaches required. 🙂 The warmth of the coffee and whiskey combined with the sweet sugar and fresh cream are the perfect antidote to getting through a cold winter and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Sláinte to you and yours!

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