What is Irish Coffee?

Although you’ve never been to Ireland, we are sure that you have heard about Irish coffee at some point. Being one of the most original and iconic cocktails out there, Irish coffee is a must-drink beverage.

If you haven’t even heard of it, it’s okay. We are here to explain to you what Irish coffee is, what does Irish coffee taste like, how its history is shaped, what variations it has and how to make one.

What is Irish Coffee?

irish coffee
“Ingredients 15/52 Irish Coffee” by JanetR3 is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

To put it simply, Irish coffee is a festive drink and now it can even be considered as a national heritage as its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. It’s basically a cocktail which consists of four ingredients: coffee, Irish whiskey, cream and sugar. This savory drink somehow manages to combine the smoothness of Irish whiskey with the strong and rich flavor of black coffee. What’s more, the sweetness of brown sugar and the unique structure of the creamy foam on top of it makes the beverage 10x more mouthwatering and even nectarous, we can say.


The year was 1943. On a snowy and freezing winter night, a simple chef named Joe Sheridan was working at Foynes Port in Limerick County, Ireland. While he was serving drinks to the customers, he didn’t know that one of the most glorious drinks of the 20th century was waiting for him.

As I said before, the weather was really bad that night and there was a fierce storm coming. As a result of the bad weather conditions, an airflight that had left the Foynes Port had been warned to return although it had traveled almost half of the journey.

The passengers on the flight were understandably exhausted and grumpy from the delay, and they decided to drink something and chill out in the closest pub.

I think it is worth mentioning that Sheridan was extremely bored on that night and when the passengers came in, he was more than happy. At a first glance, he managed to understand that they were exhausted from the flight and needed something relaxing.

Sheridan quickly made a unique coffee drink and to make passengers refreshed, he added a little bit of real Irish whiskey in it. The result was a huge success. In fact, it was so delightful that no one could comprehend what they had drunk in the first place.

irish coffee
“Irish coffee” by Infomastern is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The legend has it that its name was given after an exchange between a customer and Sheridan. “It must be Brazilian coffee, right?” asks the customer. “No, it’s Irish coffee.” says Joe Sheridan with a proud smile on his face. Hence the name.

After that night, Irish coffee became a staple in the café’s menu and its popularity had grown substantially. After WW2, it was introduced to the US by a writer named Stanton Delaplane and it became one of the regular drinks that was served in airports.

The rest, as you can guess, is history. Several variations and different versions of Irish coffee have been made, yet, the traditional one has always had a different place in our hearts.


As you can guess, it was inevitable that some variations of this tasty drink will have been created at some point. Why, you might ask? The answer is we can’t get enough of this drink and every variation offers us a new and unique approach to Irish coffee.

Traditional Irish Coffee

The traditional version of Irish coffee is what we used as a basis in this article. It has brown sugar, real Irish whiskey, light-medium roasted coffee and whipped cream on the top. While you drink it through the dense layer of whipped cream, the perfect mixture of sweetness and rich coffee flavor will surround you. As if it wasn’t enough, the whiskey will complement the other ingredients with its strong and balanced nature. With each sip, you’ll experience heaven on earth.

Bailey’s Irish Creamer

baileys coffee
“BAILEYS coffee!” by Doing is licensed with CC BY-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

If what you need is a stronger drink to cope up with whatever you’re dealing with, choose Bailey’s coffee. It’s basically an Irish cream liqueur flavored with cream, cocoa and the one and only Irish whiskey. While making traditional Irish coffee, you can always add Bailey’s Irish Creamer instead of the good old milk. Personally, it is my favorite choice on cold and snowy winter nights, it feels like living in a dream.

Pour-Over Irish Coffee

Just like the regular coffee brewing method, pour-over is another method of making Irish coffee and it is REALLY mouthwatering. In order to use this method, you should add your whiskey into the water and then boil them. After everything is done, pour the mixture over the grounded coffee and leave it to brew. With this method, you can taste whisky’s flavor a lot better. In addition, this method helps whiskey to brew with coffee and ultimately, create the perfection.

Irish Coffee with Small Adjustments

Although those above are the most common variations of Irish coffee, you can still make some slight changes to adjust it to your taste.

For instance, if you don’t like cream on top that much, you can just simply not add it. Whiskey and coffee will do just great on their own.

If you’re a fan of cream, however, you can always decorate it with numerous ingredients. Caramel, ice cream, chocolate flakes, you name it; they are all delicious decorations of cream.

Temperature of the drink can be changed too. If hot coffee isn’t for you, cold Irish coffee is a suitable option that you might want to try. The best way to make Iced Irish coffee is adding whiskey over ice cubes, adding cold brew coffee and sugar into the mixture, then whipped cream on the top.

How to Make Irish Coffee

Alright, let’s look at what we need in order to make one at home.

You’ll Need… (Irish Coffee Ingredients)

  • 1.5-ounce lightly whipped heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 oz Irish Whiskey (Whiskey is crucial when making an Irish coffee. Simply put, an excellent whiskey makes an excellent Irish coffee. So, choose your whiskey wisely as the whole coffee depends on it.)
  • 2 teaspoons of brown sugar
  • 3-4 ounces coffee (Again, this is another REALLY important element when preparing an Irish coffee. Make sure that your coffee is rich and strong in flavor.)
  • A 6-oz Irish Coffee Mug (The fancier it is, the more middle-age vibes you’ll get.)

That’s all we need to make one hell of an Irish coffee. Now, let’s find out what we have to do.


  1. First thing you need to do is heating the Irish coffee mug until it’s warm. You can pour hot water into the mug and once the mug is warmed, pour the water out.
  2. Now that your mug is ready, add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar into the mug.
  3. Add 4 ounces of coffee into the mug until it is almost full. To dissolve the brown sugar, stir the glass until the sight is perfectly clear.
  4. It’s time for adding the real Irish whiskey. Be careful, it should be real and quality Irish whiskey, otherwise, the drink will have a really crappy taste.
  5. Once everything is done, slowly pour your whipped heavy cream over the drink. You can use the back of a spoon to make things easier. This step will give your drink a layered structure and a delicious addition, so don’t forget to do it.
  6. You may want to stir the whipped cream but don’t, the whole point of Irish coffee is drinking it through the cream. You won’t believe how delicious it tastes. Enjoy your coffee, you deserved it.

Extra Tip: Use French press or moka pot to brew your coffee as the coffee will have a balanced and pleasant flavor that will complement the whiskey.

Wrapping Up

irish coffee
“Irish Coffee” by JelleS is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Well done, you’ve made it to the end! Now that you know what Irish coffee is and how it is made, you can appreciate its flavor more. Being one of the most exotic coffee drinks out there, Irish coffee sure deserves special attention. With all that in mind, why not make one for yourself and enjoy your day? Happy caffeinating.

What is Irish Coffee?

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