How to Make the Best Irish Coffee

I’m going to let you in on the secret of how to make the best Irish coffee, and it’s much simpler than people realize. It is a perfect combination of strongly brewed coffee with good quality whiskey and lightly aerated cream. Created by a nation known for their “ceol, caint agus craic” (music, chats and fun).

The best Irish coffee. Strong hot coffee with Jameson whiskey and a cream head in an Irish whiskey glass.
The Perfection that is an Irish Coffee

How do you make an Irish Coffee?

With quality ingredients and lashings of Irish wit and charm. Of course, a large helping of whiskey is important too. You can adjust the amounts of whiskey and coffee to your liking, but pouring the cream correctly is a key step. The cream should be lightly whipped and gently poured over the back of a spoon. If your cream splits or sinks the illusion will be ruined – it should look like a pint of Guinness when you’re finished.

The Creation of the Irish Coffee

The Irish coffee was created in the 1940’s by an Irish man called Joe Sheridan. He worked in a restaurant near Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland. The story goes that on a winter’s night a flight returned to the airport after it was unable to make it to New York. Joe thought that the passengers would like a hot drink with some alcohol in it so he mixed up his first round of Irish coffees. One surprised American asked, “Hey Buddy, is this Brazilian coffee?” “No,” said Joe, “that’s Irish coffee.” 

He used his Irish charm to explain the drink.

Cream – Rich as an Irish Brogue
Coffee – Strong as a Friendly Hand
Sugar – Sweet as the tongue of a Rogue
Whiskey – Smooth as the Wit of the Land

The four ingredients to the best Irish coffee. Good whiskey and coffee, brown sugar and freshly whipped cream.

Bringing St. Patrick’s Day to you!

Everyone celebrates St. Patrick’s day differently. Some like to go to parades with their family. Some like to stay at home and avoid the madness. The most popular option would be to enjoy your favorite drinks with your family and friends in your local pub. If you can’t make it to the pub, then bring the pub to you. Have some Irish food and Irish coffees to make it the best Paddies day yet.

St. Patrick’s Day Folklore

The story goes that people should wear green on St. Patrick’s Day to make themselves invisible to mischievous leprechauns. These leprechauns will pinch anyone who fail to wear any green colors. So if you pinch a person on Paddies’ day then you have a little bit of a naughty leprechaun in you. Albeit, this is just practiced in North America, it’s still a fun story to tell your friends.

Freshly brewed coffee with Jameson whiskey in a heat proof glass.

How to pour cream on an Irish Coffee

  • It’s important to lightly whip the cream. You want it aerated but not so much that it forms stiff peaks and is unable to move.
  • Position the back of a teaspoon in the glass just touching the inside. Hover over the coffee.
  • Slowly pour the cream over the back of a teaspoon on to the coffee. Gently fill in any gaps until the glass is full.

How to Make the Best Irish Coffee

  • Use a great Irish whiskey like Jameson Whiskey. It is perfect for Irish coffees. You could also use Tullamore Dew or Bushmills.
  • Make sure the cream is lightly aerated and not heavily whipped. Pour it over the back of a spoon to get it just right. I would highly recommend whipping your own fresh cream instead of a can.
  • I like to use a strong dark roast coffee. Freshly brewed coffee is definitely the way to go!
  • For sweetness, you can use regular sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup or your own sugar syrup mixture. Maple syrup and sugar syrup will dissolve easier in the hot coffee.

Irish Coffee Variations

  • Vegetarian/ Vegan Irish Coffee: Use whipped coconut cream instead of regular whipped cream (it will impart a light coconut flavor).
  • For more alcohol: Add some baileys or any Irish cream liqueur into the cream when whipping.
  • For less alcohol: Either use less whiskey or leave it out altogether. Treat it like a Espresso Con Panna which is black coffee with whipped cream on top.
  • For a sweeter tooth: Break honeycomb or ginger biscuits into smaller pieces and sprinkle tiny amounts of biscuit dust on top.
  • To garnish: add some grated nutmeg, cinnamon, cocoa or dark chocolate on top.
Irish Coffee perfectly made with a bottle of Jameson whiskey beside it.

If you like authentic Irish recipes, coffee and cocktails, try these as well:

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Freshly made Irish coffee place on wooden board. A bottle of Jameson whiskey behind it.

How to Make the Best Irish Coffee

Author: Fiona Halligan
It is a perfect combination of strongly brewed coffee with good quality whiskey and lightly aerated cream. Created by a nation known for their "ceol, caint agus craic" (music, chats and fun).
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Course Cocktails
Cuisine Irish
Servings 2 people
Calories 159 kcal


  • 200ml Irish heatproof Whiskey Glass- 6.8oz


  • 60 ml Irish Whiskey (Jameson, Tullamore Dew, Bushmills)
  • 2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
  • 260 ml Freshly brewed Coffee fill ¾ of your glass
  • 40 ml Freshly Whipped Cream for topping


  • Pour some boiling water into your heat proof glass. It will keep the coffee hotter for longer.
  • Whisk the cream in a bowl. Don’t whisk the cream too stiffly or you won’t be able to pour it. Set aside.
  • Empty the hot water out of the glass. Pour the whiskey and sugar into the heat-proof glass.
  • Pour in a splash of the coffee and stir with a spoon until the sugar dissolves into the coffee.
  • Pour in the rest of the coffee to fill ¾ of the glass.
  • Turn a spoon upside down and place the tip of the spoon inside the coffee glass just on top of the coffee making sure that the edge of the spoon is touching the glass.
  • Now slowly pour the whipped cream over the spoon. It should flow over the top of the spoon and land softly on top of the coffee. When you pour the cream gently it ensures that it doesn’t sink into the coffee.
  • Serve while the drink is still warm! Sláinte!


  1. Whip the cream so that it is lightly aerated not stiff.
  2. Pour it in to your glass over the back of a spoon.
  3. Use good quality coffee and whiskey.
  4. For the sweetener, try using maple syrup or sugar syrup for a different taste.


Calories: 159kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 1gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 9mgPotassium: 21mgSugar: 4gVitamin A: 294IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 16mgIron: 1mg
Keyword How to make the best Irish Coffee, Irish Coffee, St Patrick’s Day
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