Before we get to the Irish cream recipe, first, let me tell you that I am not the greatest advocate of off-the-shelf cream liqueurs. It’s not so much to do with the flavor—I actually quite like the taste of Baileys Original Irish Cream and its close relatives. It’s more to do with the audacity of the whole thing—that someone, at some point, deemed it OK to combine Irish whiskey and fresh cream in a shelf-stable bottle. God knows what sordid procedures the manufacturers of these products have developed to make the stuff last so long. Deals have been made with the devil though, and even an open bottle is guaranteed by the manufacturer to taste good for at least two years. If the nukes hit tomorrow, the surviving cockroaches could live off Baileys.
So it struck me that it would be nice to make an Irish cream liqueur that forgoes the shelf life, but tastes delicious while it lasts. My recipe includes a selection of spices and flavorings, which both enhance and balance some of the flavors present in the cream and the whiskey. The quantities of these ingredients are my own recommendations, and you can adjust them if you want to knock back or lift up a specific flavor.–Tristan Stephenson
LC DIY Baileys, Baby! Note
Yep. DIY Baileys, baby. A word of caution, though. Homemade Irish cream liqueur lacks the preservatives and stabilizers that make it shelf-stable. These very same multisyllabic and, in our opinion, not-so-swell ingredients are also responsible for that sorta trademark Baileys mouthfeel—you know, that thick, viscous, uber-creamy consistency that makes it go down so easily. What this means is that this homemade version may be a touch runnier than the bottled version to which you’re accustomed. This doesn’t bother us at all, but if you just can’t deal and want to mimic that mouthfeel, follow the author’s lead: “If you want to make the liqueur thicker, try adding a gram or two of sodium alginate during the blending stage. It’s a natural thickener of dairy products that gives the impression of a more fatty consistency without actually increasing the fat.” There you have it.
Special Equipment: Suitable bottle with an airtight cap; cheesecloth
Homemade Irish Cream Recipe Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 10 M
- 1 H, 25 M
- Makes 1 liter
- 3 1/2 cups (800 milliliters) whole milk
- Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
- 1 ounce (1/4 cup) cacao nibs
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) sea salt
- 1/2 ounce (3 tablespoons) freshly coarse-ground coffee
- 1 3/4 cups (400 milliliters) Bushmills Black Bush or similar whiskey
- 2/3 cup (150 milliliters) heavy cream
- 1. Sterilize a suitable bottle and cap by boiling it in hot water.
- 2. Put the milk, vanilla seeds, and cacao nibs in a pan and bring to a simmer. Hold it at a gentle simmer for 30 minutes, then strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Return the liquid to the pan along with the sugar and salt and gently simmer until it’s reduced by about half (about 2 cups total), which may take as long as an hour.
- 3. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a minute or so.
- 4. Add the coffee and stir well. Let rest for 5 minutes.
- 5. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve or tea strainer. Let cool completely.
- 6. Stir in the whiskey. Then put the mixture in a blender or use an immersion blender to blitz for 20 seconds while slowly but steadily pouring in the cream. Stop the blender, pour the finished liqueur into the sterilized bottle, and then seal it. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week in the fridge—any longer and you’re not doing it right! You can serve it poured over ice, mixed into a cappuccino, or however you find suitable.
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