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

A tall glass mug filled with Irish coffee with whipped cream on top and a tumbler or whiskey in the background.

Irish Coffee

5 / 3 votes
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.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories345 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Total Time10 minutes


  • A stiff disposition


  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, or less to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces Irish whiskey
  • 4 cups hot, freshly brewed, strong black coffee
  • Granulated sugar, to taste


  • 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 of 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.)


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.
Winter Cocktails

Adapted From

Winter Cocktails

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Serving: 1 coffeeCalories: 345 kcalCarbohydrates: 9 gProtein: 2 gFat: 22 gSaturated Fat: 14 gMonounsaturated Fat: 6 gCholesterol: 82 mgSodium: 28 mgSugar: 8 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2013 Maria del Mar Sacasa. Photo © 2013 matucha12. All rights reserved.

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.

This is a simple, straightforward recipe for Irish coffee. We elected to do this after Sunday dinner and I couldn’t be bothered to bring out an electric mixer, so I beat the cream by hand. All in all it took 5 or 6 minutes to assemble the coffee, whip the cream, and sit down to have a well-deserved treat.

The only recommendation I would make for this recipe is to use a good Irish whiskey that you like. We chose to use Jameson’s. Two of us didn’t add sugar to the coffee and two did. That part is best left to personal taste, but the Irish coffee was enjoyed by all.

A wintertime treat, for sure! The proportions are just right if you like a smooth drink–the whiskey really melts into the coffee. I also thought the sweet undertones of the sugar in the whipped cream were spot on.

And while I have always thought of Irish coffee as an after-dinner drink, I am happy to report that I enjoyed it even more as a late Sunday afternoon treat. Bring on winter, I will be mixing up this drink again soon!

A delicious and warming way to end your day. Easy to make and delicious to drink. What more can I say? I’d never tried Irish coffee, but always meant to. Glad I did with this recipe. Perfect for the weather we’ve been having.

So great for the holiday season! What I really like about this recipe is that the slight sweetness comes from the homemade whipped cream and not some cloyingly sweet liqueur. What’s better than homemade whipped cream, anyways? Nothing.

I made the coffee for this drink in a French press, so it was really rich and flavorful. I recommend using coffee brewed by a similar method as it just kicks up the coffee flavor. Depending on my level of being freezing cold, I would certainly play around with the amount of Irish whiskey added, as the coffee and whipped cream both do a nice job of masking the fumes of the warmed spirit.

I don’t think I’ll need another Irish coffee recipe as long as I have this one, but it would be fun to play around with it…perhaps I’d add some orange liqueur or use a different whiskey, maybe even a mild scotch with Drambuie. Yum!

Irish coffee screams of two things. First, San Francisco and the infamous Buena Vista, where one can enjoy a rich, warming, comforting, make-the-world-perfect kind of drink while watching limos full of people enjoying life to the max pass by. Second, on a more personal level, Irish coffee brings great memories of Christmas morning. No better way to start a Christmas morning than to have a delectable Irish coffee while sitting around the tree!

My recipe is very similar to this one, yet I had to try it. The recipe as written is great. For me, the beauty is in good-quality cream and vanilla. The Irish whiskey also contains sugar, thus, for us, less sugar is desired. Personally, I do not like things that are very sweet, so I would tone down the amount of sugar. That said, this is a terrific recipe.

Wow! We loved it. Easy to make—you could even cheat and use pre-whipped cream—and it warms the cockles of your heart!

I did make one change. I substituted Irish Cream Liqueur for the whiskey because that was what I had on hand and I think I will make it this way in the future. It was wonderful. Because the liqueur is sweet, I eliminated the sugar. If you do use the liqueur I would say “add sugar to taste.”

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Happy Holidays David, and The One! Hope your Holidays are bright! We make this, but a little different. We make strong coffee, and add homemade Irish Cream. (half n half, Jameson Irish Whiskey, a little Kahlua, pure almond and vanilla extracts, choc syrup (only Hershey’s of course) and 1 can of sweetened condensed milk. ) It enhances the coffee perfectly. Your recipe is probably easier, but we always make homemade irish cream on the holidays around Christmas and New Years. Cheers to you both, and happy new year! as well.

    1. Happy holidays, my dear Grammasue! I love your recipe for homemade Irish Cream. The One and I just might have to make it!

  2. David, I protest your prejudice against the morning consumption of the Hibernian potion. It is, after all, properly considered as an enhanced cappuccino. A quick one soon after waking puts me in the right frame of mind to go back to bed.