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How to Make an Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee Recipe - Coffee Life by EspressoWorks

When you think about Ireland, many things come to mind: the color green, four-leaf clovers, beer and if you’re a coffee lover, you’ll instantly start craving a delicious steamy cup of this smooth and sweet treat.

Making an Irish coffee takes a lot more than just pouring some whiskey into your cup of coffee. Just like you would put in the effort to make your favorite coffee drink at home, an Irish coffee must be carefully crafted in order to get the best flavor.

Before we give you the recipe (plus some extra tips!) for making the best-tasting Irish coffee, let’s take a look at the history of this delicious coffee cocktail.

History of Irish Coffee

It was in 1942 that Joe Sheridan had the idea of combining Irish whiskey with black coffee to create the now legendary coffee cocktail. Sheridan ran the restaurant at the Foynes airbase, which was located near Limerick, Ireland. Stories say that Sheridan created the drink at the airport restaurant for some stranded passengers that were on their way to New York but got stuck at the airport because of a winter storm.

The drink became popular locally and then reached the U.S. in 1952 when a travel writer named Stanton Delaplane brought the recipe over to Jack Koeppler, a bartender in San Francisco. What Kopeppler couldn’t figure out was how to keep the cream floating at the top — so he ended up traveling to Ireland to meet with Sheridan to learn directly from him just how to get the recipe right. They ended up partnering up and thus, today’s popular drink made its U.S. arrival.

And now, you can make it at home on your own using this handy recipe below! Plus, find out some tricks to make your Irish coffee taste even better.


Serving Size: 1

  • 4 ounces of hot, brewed coffee (ideally it should be strong and rich)
  • 1 ½ ounce of Irish whiskey
  • 2 teaspoons of brown sugar
  • 1 ounce of lightly whipped heavy cream


  • Place the brown sugar into a warm coffee mug or heat-proof glass cup
  • Add the coffee to the cup and then stir until the sugar has dissolved
  • Add Irish whisky and stir again
  • Layer on the lightly whipped heavy cream by pouring it on top of your coffee over the back of a spoon
  • Don’t stir — enjoy the drink by sipping it through the cream 

Make Your Irish Coffee Taste Even Better

As we said before, making an Irish coffee isn’t just a matter of tossing a shot of whiskey into your cup of coffee. Aside from using the above recipe to make yourself a delicious cocktail, you can make your drink taste even better with the following suggestions.

  • Use a special glass
    When you order an Irish coffee at an Irish bar, often a stemmed glass will be used in order to put the beautiful whipped cream topping on display. Typically measuring around 6 inches, these goblet style glasses help to prevent too big of a pour and helps to balance out all of the flavors of the ingredients.

    To make the experience even more memorable, warm up the glass using before filling it with your Irish coffee. To warm up the glass, simply fill it with hot water and let it sit in the glass until it warms. 

  • Choose your sugar

    This sweetener for your drink is completely up to you (or whomever you are making the Irish coffee for). Sugar cubes make it easier to measure how much you’re using and it dissolves nicely into the drink.

    Some people like using liquid sweetener because of its consistency and rich taste. You can also use any granulated sugar of your choice. Our recipe uses brown sugar, but let your taste buds lead the way.

  • Coffee selection

    To obtain the perfect flavor and temperature when all of the ingredients are combined, it is recommended to use a medium roast Columbian blend. This allows for all of the flavors to combine and complement one another. You want to avoid coffees that are too strong, as well as espressos that may make the coffee taste too bitter.

  • Whiskey suggestions

    Choose a good Irish whiskey to mix into your Irish coffee. Some brands to check out include Jameson, Bushmills, and Kilbeggan.

  • Cream dreams

    For the best-tasting Irish cream, use freshly whipped cream. Any other options like pressurized whipped cream cans or other packaged whipped cream may ruin the taste. To make your own, take heavy whipping cream and use a whisk or fork to whip it until it is light and fluffy.

With fall right around the corner, an Irish Coffee is the perfect treat at the end of a busy workday or the perfect cocktail to sip as you catch up with a friend.