Irish Coffee

This Irish coffee spikes strong coffee with Irish whiskey and sweetens it with confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla. The perfect way to start, er, end your day.

Two mugs, one empty and the other filled with Irish coffee on a white wooden table.

This Irish coffee is a better way to start your day. Though I don’t advocate starting the workweek with this “special” brew (wink wink), a generous splash of Irish whiskey is perfectly apropos at the end of dinner or a weekend brunch.–Maria del Mar Sacasa

Irish Coffee

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 10 M
  • Serves 4
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Special Equipment: A stiff disposition



In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. (Or, if you prefer to work your biceps, you can whisk the cream by hand, but it’ll take you quite a lot longer than 2 to 3 minutes.)

Warm 4 coffee cups or mugs by rinsing them with hot water and drying them.

Pour 1 1/2 ounces whiskey into each cup or mug. Add 1 cup coffee and sugar to taste to each cup or mug and stir. Top with a dollop whipped cream and serve immediately. (You may wish to serve the cups of whiskey-laced coffee and pass the sugar and whipped cream on the side so guests can be as abstemious or as indulgent as they like.) Originally published December 20, 2013.

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    In-Advance Advice

    • This is perhaps the easiest after-dinner drink ever. Still, chances are that you’ll be making it when you have a dining room filled with friends, so you may as well make things as easy as possible on yourself. So before your guests arrive, measure the grounds and program your coffeemaker, set out the Irish whiskey and the mugs, and, if you feel like pushing your luck, whip the cream and tuck it in the fridge just before you sit down to dinner. All that’s left for later is warming the mugs and the final assembly—we’re talking 3 minutes at most.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    Um, what’s NOT to like here? Coffee, whiskey, cream. Yum. This is what Bailey’s wishes it was. The contrast between temperatures (hot and cold), as well as textures (thick cream and thin coffee) is divine. It’s become rather a habit at my house—the perfect afternoon treat when I get back from work.

    There are precise measurements in this recipe, but it’s really more of a suggestion. No one will know if you add an extra splash of whisky or another dollop of cream. Besides, I always have small amounts of cream left in my refrigerator, and this is a genius way to use it! Just make sure to use strong, hot coffee and extra-cold, good-quality, heavy cream.

    This is the perfect end to a perfect dinner. Or the perfect way to spend a cold night in front of a warm fire. Or the perfect cup of coffee for whatever reason, whether you need one or not (that is, whether you need a coffee or a reason!).

    The result is worth the wait for the cream to be whipped. I used dark roast coffee with chicory, but I've made Irish coffee with all strengths and purity levels of coffee, and it's up to the individual as far as I can see, since none of them made a bad cup.

    I would use about half the amount of Irish whiskey in this recipe next time. I usually don't measure but go by the eyeball method. My eyes almost popped out of my head when I took a sip. Of course, the size of the cup will definitely impact this recipe. Small cup = more booze and less coffee since you pour the whiskey in first and then hope that a measured cup of coffee will fit in. I have seen this done for crowds and you just make whatever amount of coffee in cups, add the whiskey and sugar to the coffee, pour into individual servings and top with the whipped cream.

    No matter what the method, this is a good, straightforward recipe with great results. And you can always test again if you aren't sure. And again.


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