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!
Watch How to Make Irish Coffee
How to Make the Best Irish Coffee
Start by gathering high quality ingredients, then:
1) 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!
2) 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.
3) Sweeten with some maple syrup.
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.
4) Add a splash of coffee.
Gently stir to blend. Then fill the mug with coffee, leaving about 1/2-inch at the top for whipped cream.
5) 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).
More Wintertime Cocktails to Enjoy
- French 75
- Hot Toddy
- Mulled Wine
- Manhattan Cocktail
- Maple New York Sour
- Old Fashioned Cocktail
- Vegan White Russian
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.
Best Irish Coffee
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 cocktail 1x
- 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!
Hey Kate! Your recipes are always amazing but have really been outstanding as of late! Keep up the great work!!!
Thanks so much, Meg!
This recipe sounds utterly divine! I can’t wait to make it over the holidays! :)
Let me know what you think, Allison.
Sounds great!! I’d love recipes from you for both a vegan Irish cream (Bailey’s) and an eggnog. I usually have Bailey’s in my coffee on Christmas morning (well, all day long) but I’m not having dairy anymore. Happy holidays!
Wow- my husband and I loved this recipe. Tasted just like the Irish coffees we had in Ireland. We used Paddy’s Irish Whiskey and Peet’s Holiday Blend.
Hooray!! Love that it tastes authentic to you. I appreciate the review, Jessica!
Happy New Year first of all!!
After visiting Ireland and I have learned to love irish coffee which was actually not a favourtie drink back home. They make it with Irish whiskey of course (as opposed to any other scotch) and to my surprise the whipped cream is not actually that whipped. they only whip it to a point where it’s closer to a soften cream cheese than whipped cream itself. It was funny because first time I saw it in a bar I thought that maybe that was the way they did it in that place. Then somewone explained me that you are not supposed to whipp the cream all the way, just a little bit! soooo this is qhat did it for me because I’m not fan of whipped cream but I loved it this way instead! It’s so cool to travel and get to learn all sort of typical things in each place, isn’t it?!!
Hope you have a wonderful start of 2019!
Thank you for your kind words, It’s so lovely.
Hey, what glasses are those? I love them and need them in my life, please let me know!
Thanks, David! The glasses are from Crate and Barrel (French Champagne glass). I must warn you that they are not designed for warm drinks like the Irish coffee shown. The base stays cool but the sides get hot. They were just so much prettier than regular Irish coffee glasses that I made them work. :)
Am going to make hot toddy kits for my friends at Christmas. Looking at your warm up drinks. Can’t wait to try! Strongly suggest you taste 40 Creek Cream liqueur (made at a distillery near me). Can’t beat the flavour. Heads and shoulders above Baileys, etc.
Yum! Just like we used to have during the holidays with my in-laws I will have to bring this tradition back during Thanksgiving & Christmas! Thank you!
You’re welcome! This is great for the holidays, Susan.
Where did you get the serving glasses, and who makes them?
This is about the Irish Coffee recipe. Thanks
Hi CK! I find a lot of my glassware at Crate & Barrel. I find they have a great selection!
I like to use the traditional lightly whipped heavy cream; about 200 to 300 whips of the chilled whisk in a chilled stainless steel bowl should do it. It should float easily when poured over the bottom of the bowl of a tablespoon. If it melts into the coffee then it needs a few more whips of the whisk. When using a thick enough layer it will reform over the Irish coffee after dunking your doughnut in it.
I’m all for the traditional ingredients and preparations but I skip the freshly ground nutmeg.
Love the idea of maple syrup in lieu of sugar and it certainly is a perfect substitute! I added a stitch of Bailey’s in my whipped cream mixture for texture. Adding a Ceylon cinnamon stick in the mug was sublime
Loved this recipe!
I actually put a teaspoon of sugar and real vanilla extract in my whipping cream, and it was YUMMY! Loved the maple syrup in the coffee/whiskey mixture! Thank you for this!
Thank you for reporting back,Donna! I appreciate your review.
While living in Norway, I delved over recipes given that I had a lot of time! The best Irish Coffees over there were made with brown sugar instead of white. Amazing! Just found your site today and already have the ingredients to purchase for a few of your recipes!
Hello. I have enjoyed Irish coffee with a drizzle of green Creme de menthe on top of the whipped cream.
Hi Kate, These delightful coffee recipes are really making me buzz still! Great tips for all coffee addicts (like me). I love to read every blog related to coffee. So, your ideas are very creative and useful. Thank you very much for sharing this with us.