Irish Coffee Cocktail Recipe

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Irish Coffee Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


Irish Coffee was created in the 1940s by Joe Sheridan, a chef at the Foynes Airbase in County Limerick, Ireland. He wanted to create a warm and comforting drink for travelers arriving on cold, transatlantic flights. The drink quickly gained popularity and became a staple in Irish pubs and bars around the world.

  • The original recipe called for Irish whiskey, coffee, brown sugar, and whipped cream.
  • Irish Coffee is often enjoyed on cold winter nights or as a festive drink during the holiday season.
  • The Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco is famous for its Irish Coffee, serving over 2,000 glasses a day.

How Irish Coffee Tastes?

Irish Coffee is a warm, rich, and creamy cocktail with a perfect balance of bitter coffee, sweet sugar, and smooth Irish whiskey. The whipped cream adds a luxurious, velvety texture.

Interesting facts about Irish Coffee

  • Irish Coffee is sometimes referred to as 'Gaelic Coffee' or 'Café Gaelach'.
  • The National Irish Coffee Day is celebrated on January 25th.
  • The world record for the largest Irish Coffee was set in 2013, with a 234-gallon glass.


Irish whiskey

  • Why 1.5 oz?: It's the sweet spot! Just enough to assert its presence without overpowering the coffee. Go more, and you're in a whiskey-flavored coffee territory – not very Irish of you!
  • Flavor enhancement: It adds warmth and a hint of vanilla and caramel notes that really make the coffee sing. If you skip it, it's no longer an Irish Coffee, just a dressed-up Americano!
  • Alternatives: An aged Scotch can add a smoky twist, or American bourbon for extra sweetness.

Emma Rose

Hot coffee

  • Why 6 oz?: That's the golden ratio. The pouring sequence is key – whiskey first, then coffee to blend those flavors without bitterness taking center stage.
  • Without it: Coffee is the heart of the drink; without it, you've got sweet whiskey water.
  • Alternatives: Go for a strong brew or even espresso for a bolder kick. Decaf if you must, but where's the fun in that?

Alex Green

Brown sugar

  • Why 1 tbsp?: It balances the bitter coffee and adds a caramelized depth. Too little and the whiskey might feel lonely; too much and you're in syrupy trouble.
  • Where's the sweet spot?: You're looking for that warm, sweet whisper, not a sugar shout. Adjust to taste, but remember, we're not making candy here.
  • Alternatives: White sugar for a cleaner sweetness, or honey for a floral note.

Mary Mitkina

Whipped cream

  • Why a dollop?: It's the crowning glory, the creamy cloud atop your liquid masterpiece. Too much and you're in a dairy deluge, too little and it's just a sad little topping.
  • Flavor enhancement: It adds a rich texture and visual contrast, while cooling and smoothing the sipping experience.
  • Without it?: It would be like an Irishman without a brogue – still good, but somehow not quite right.
  • Alternatives: A non-dairy topper could work for the lactose intolerant, but the traditional cream really is key.

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make Irish Coffee Drink

  1. Preheat an Irish Coffee glass by filling it with hot water and letting it sit for a few minutes. Then, empty the glass.
  2. Add 1 tbsp of brown sugar to the glass.
  3. Pour in 1.5 oz of Irish whiskey.
  4. Fill the glass with 6 oz of hot coffee, leaving about half an inch of space at the top.
  5. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.
  6. Gently pour the whipped cream over the back of a spoon, so it floats on top of the coffee.
  7. Do not stir the whipped cream into the coffee. Enjoy the drink by sipping the coffee through the layer of cream.

Pro Tips

  • Preheat the glass to keep the drink warm for longer.
  • Use high-quality, freshly brewed coffee for the best taste.
  • Do not stir the whipped cream into the coffee. Sip the coffee through the cream for the authentic Irish Coffee experience.

Perfect Pairings

Savory Snacks

  • Mini Quiches: The creamy texture of quiches complements the smooth whipped cream, while their saltiness contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the Irish Coffee.
  • Smoked Almonds: The smokiness of the almonds brings out the toasty notes in the coffee and whiskey.


  • Chocolate Cake: Chocolate and coffee are a match made in heaven; the bitterness of both beautifully offset by the sweetness and cream.
  • Apple Pie: The traditional flavors of apple and the spices blend harmoniously with the whiskey's warmth.


  • Aged Cheddar: The sharpness of a good cheddar pairs wonderfully with the rich and sweet notes of an Irish Coffee.

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What you could change in Irish Coffee

  • Irish whiskey can be replaced with other types of whiskey or bourbon.
  • Brown sugar can be substituted with white sugar or honey.
  • Whipped cream can be replaced with a dairy-free alternative for a vegan version.

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And of course - twists🍹

Spiced Irish Coffee

  • Ingredients: Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg alongside the brown sugar.
  • Recipe: Follow the original but sprinkle a little spice on top of the cream. It'll add a warming, spicy note that's perfect on a cold day.

Irish Coffee Martini

  • Ingredients: Allow the coffee to cool and serve it in a martini glass with a shake of Irish cream liqueur.
  • Recipe: Mix the whiskey, sugar, and cooled coffee. Shake over ice and strain into a glass. Float a small amount of whipped cream. It's a chilled, sweeter twist with an extra layer of creaminess.

Vegan Irish Coffee

  • Ingredients: Substitute the whipped cream with coconut whipped cream and use a sugar alternative if you prefer.
  • Recipe: Similar to the classic; just swap in your vegan-friendly ingredients. The coconut adds a tropical twist while keeping the integrity of the creamy topping.

In case you forgot basics how to make Irish Coffee

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

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Frequently Asked Questions on Irish Coffee

What type of coffee should I use for an Irish Coffee?

Any high-quality, freshly brewed coffee should be okay. However, some people prefer a strong, dark roast to balance out the sweetness of the cocktail.

Does Irish Coffee only include whiskey as an alcohol?

Traditionally yes, the main alcohol content is Irish whiskey. However, it can be replaced with a variety of spirits according to personal preference, like bourbon or rum.

Is there a specific way to serve Irish Coffee?

The perfect Irish Coffee is served in a clear stemmed glass displaying the different layers; coffee at the bottom, a layer of cream on top. And the glass should be warm to enhance the full experience.

Is Irish Coffee always served hot?

Yes, Irish Coffee is primarily a hot drink, designed to comfort and warm. However, there are iced or cold variations available as well.

Can I use any type of brown sugar in the Irish Coffee?

Yes, any variety of brown sugar may be used, but darker varieties will give your drink a deeper flavor.

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