It’s cold outside. Let’s warm up with classic Irish coffees! I used to make Irish coffees during my bartending days, and thought it would be fun to revisit the recipe and make them from scratch.
Classic Irish coffees are made with just four ingredients: hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar and whipped cream. Oftentimes in restaurants, Irish coffees are overwhelmingly sweet and rich. I love making them at home because you can make them exactly how you like them.
Plus, Irish coffees are so simple to make. You don’t need bartending experience or any special equipment to whip these up.
My favorite Irish coffees are made with freshly brewed coffee, high-quality Irish whiskey, and topped with real whipped cream, which you can make in about 10 minutes if you have the time. It is worth the effort.
My only twist on the classic recipe is to use real maple syrup instead of sugar. Natural maple syrup flavors play beautifully with coffee and whiskey, and it blends right in since it’s liquid. Easy!
How to Make the Best Irish Coffee
Just start with the best ingredients!
- Brew your favorite coffee. I like dark roast best in Irish coffees, personally, but that’s my general preference. Freshly brewed coffee is the way to go!
- Add Irish whiskey to a mug. I’m partial to Jameson. It’s the brand we used to make Irish coffees when I was a bartender. Bushmills is a less expensive option.
- Add a little maple syrup to sweeten. Mind you, I like my coffee black in the mornings, but a little sweetener takes the edge off the whiskey. You could use regular sugar or brown sugar instead, but maple syrup tastes better and blends in more easily.
- Add a splash of coffee and gently stir to blend. Then fill the mug with coffee, leaving about 1/2″ at the top for whipped cream.
- Top with whipped cream. Bonus points if you’re using real whipped cream. So good!
Irish Coffee Variations
I love these classic Irish coffees exactly as written, but here are some fun ways to change them up.
- Add a garnish. Sprinkle the top with a pinch of ground cinnamon or nutmeg. If you’re really fancy, you can try finely grated fresh nutmeg or chocolate shavings on top with a Microplane (affiliate link).
- Choose decaf coffee for an after-dinner drink. That is, unless you can drink coffee after 3 pm and still go to bed on time—in which case, I salute you.
- Serve it on ice. Pour cold brew coffee or double-strength brewed coffee over a cup filled with ice. Add a splash of half and half and skip the whipped cream.
- Make it extra creamy and rich. Substitute Irish cream (like Bailey’s) for some or all of the whiskey.
- Make it quick. Skip the homemade whipped cream and add a splash of half and half instead.
- Lighten it up. If you’re looking for a less boozy drink, simply ease up on the whiskey.
- Make it alcohol-free. Skip the whiskey and you have a delicious homemade coffee drink (nothing Irish about it, but hey, it’s tasty).
Please let me know how you like this Irish coffee in the comments! I love hearing from you and hope this cocktail adds some extra cheer to your holidays.
More fun wintertime cocktails:
- Maple New York Sour and Cinnamon Maple Whiskey Sour
- Classic French 75 and Earl Grey French 75
- Vegan White Russian
- Spiced Apple Margaritas, Blood Orange Margaritas, Cranberry Margaritas and Pear Nectar with Reposado Tequila
- The Best Mimosas and Blood Orange Pomegranate Sangria
Best Irish Coffee
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 cocktail
- Category: Cocktail
- Method: Stirred
- Cuisine: Irish
Learn how to make the best Irish coffee! To make this simple cocktail recipe, you’ll need hot coffee, Irish whiskey, maple syrup and whipped cream. Recipe as written makes one cocktail; they’re easy to make in multiples!
- 1 ½ ounces Irish whiskey (that’s 3 tablespoons/I used Jameson)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons maple syrup, to taste
- 6 ounces hot freshly brewed coffee (that’s ¾ cup/use your favorite roast)
- Whipped cream, for topping
- Pour the whiskey and 1 teaspoon maple syrup into a heat-safe mug. Pour in a splash of the coffee and stir with a spoon until the maple syrup dissolves into the coffee.
- Pour in the rest of the coffee. Taste, and stir in additional maple syrup if you would like a sweeter drink.
- Top with whipped cream. If your whipped cream is lightly whipped (soft peaks), you may need to pour it slowly over a spoon so it floats on top. Serve while the drink is still warm!