This Authentic Irish Coffee recipe is made with just 4 ingredients – Irish whisky, espresso, brown sugar, and heavy whipping cream. A recipe straight from The Garryvoe Hotel in County Cork, Ireland!
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I fell in love with coffee cocktail when I visited Ireland in November of 2022. I’d tried it before then but here in Canada, when someone asks for an Irish coffee, it’s typically very sweet and more of an Irish cream coffee with copious amounts of whipped cream on top, plus chocolate syrup somewhere (or everywhere).
But real, authentic Irish coffee is a bit different. It’s not as sweet and is made with just a few key ingredients – primarily Jamieson Irish whisky, espresso, brown sugar, and heavy cream or whipping cream.
My first sip of an authentic Jamieson Irish coffee was in East Cork at the Garryvoe Hotel and it was love at first taste. The bartender was kind enough to share his recipe and while I tried many other Irish coffee cocktails while traveling in Ireland, nothing beat this original recipe!
Irish Coffee Ingredients
- Jamieson Irish Whisky – Irish whisky is the key ingredient to making a good Irish coffee.
- Brown sugar – adds some sweetness to the coffee but also adds some viscosity which helps float the cream topping.
- Espresso – Espresso mixed with hot water makes the coffee base.
- Heavy whipping cream – Be sure it’s chilled well and lightly whipped to create a layered effect.
How to Make Irish Coffee
The first step to making this recipe is to warm your glass. The easiest way to do it is to fill a glass with boiling water, let it sit for a minute to warm, and then toss the water out. While the glass is heating up place a teaspoon in the water to heat up a metal teaspoon as well.
Remove the spoon from the glass and toss the hot water. Add 2 oz of espresso with 2 oz of hot water to the heated glass.
Pour the Jamieson Irish whisky over the back of the heated spoon and then add the brown sugar and stir until the brown sugar is melted and mixed well.
Allow the liquid to settle and stop spinning. If you don’t do this when you add the cream it may not float well because the swirling may pull it apart.
Add the heaving cream or whipping cream to a small bowl and then place the small bowl in a larger bowl like a soup bowl and place ice around it to chill the cream. Using a hand mixer or if you have up for a good workout, use a whisk, and beat the cream until it thickens.
You don’t want the cream to be thick with peaks like whipping cream for dessert. Instead, you want it to be just like thick froth. Thick enough that if you put your finger in it or the back of a spoon if you are sharing with friends (you don’t want to be gross) the cream will coat your finger or spoon without sliding off.
Pour the cream over the back of a cooled spoon to float on top of the coffee cocktail. Serve and enjoy.
Tips for The Best Irish Coffee Cocktail
Here are a few important tips I’ve learned when making this authentic Irish recipe.
- Heat the metal spoon. Heating the spoon and pouring the Jamieson over it helps to warm it up a bit and keep the cocktail hot.
- Pour the frothed cream slowly. Use the back of a cold spoon to pour the lightly whipped cream over top. This helps to float the cream on top and keep it plunging into the coffee cocktail and getting stirred up.
- Be sure to chill the cream. Make sure the lightly whipped cream is cold so that it does not separate when it hits the hot coffee.
What Type of Glass Is Irish coffee Served in?
The glassware traditionally used is very similar in shape to a large wine glass. The glass has roughly a 10 oz capacity and is similar to a tulip-shaped wine glass with a squatter stem.
I don’t have an official Irish Coffee glass so I used a large wine glass.
You will often find them served in glass coffee mugs that have a stem as well outside of Ireland.
Jamieson Irish Coffee Variations
While these variations aren’t necessarily authentic, they’re definitely tasty!
- Switch up the liquor. Instead of Irish whisky, try making a coffee cocktail with Bailey’s, Kahlua, or Frangelico.
- Make it cold. Instead of a hot espresso, try making it with cold brew instead.
- Switch out the sweetener. Try using maple syrup instead of brown sugar to sweeten the drink.
- Add some flavor. Add a sprinkle of cocoa powder or cinnamon for a fun, flavorful twist.
Can You Make a Non-Alcoholic Irish Coffee?
Yes, for a non-alcoholic version, just replace the Jamieson with whisky-flavored syrup or a non-alcoholic whisky brand such as Lyre’s
Can You Make a Dairy-Free Irish Coffee?
Yes, you can find dairy-free whipping cream or use full-fat coconut milk and give it a whip. But note that the coconut milk variation will have a slightly different flavor.
More Fun Drink Recipes:
- Jamieson Green Tea Shot
- Maple Old Fashioned
- Rich & Creamy Hot Chocolate
- Ruby Red Grapefruit Mulled Wine
Authentic Irish Coffee
- 3 oz espresso
- 3 oz hot water
- 1 ½ oz Jamieson Irish Whisky
- 2 tsp brown sugar or sweetened to taste
- 1 oz heaving cream or whipping cream
- Pour hot water into a glass and add a metal teaspoon. This heats the glass and spoon. Let sit for a minute and then remove the spoon and toss the water out.
- Add equal parts espresso and hot water to the glass.
- Pour the whisky over the back of the hot spoon into the glass. This heats the whisky so the drink stays hot.
- Add the brown sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Let the coffee mixture settle until it stops swirling.
- Meanwhile use a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Or my preferred method is to add cold whipping cream to a bowl and then sit that bowl inside a larger soup bowl and add ice to surround it. This chills the cream inside the bowl further. Use a hand mixer or whisk to beat the cream until it is frothy and thickened only enough to coat the back of a spoon without it slipping off. You don't want it to be fully whipped into whipped cream with peaks. That is too much. Just a light thick froth.
- Pour the frothed cream over the back of a spoon onto the top of the coffee to float a thick layer. Serve hot plain or with a sprinkle of cinnamon or cocoa.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.