How to Make an Authentic Irish Coffee

After checking out this Irish coffee recipe, you’ll want to put on a pot of coffee and get started. We’ll teach you how to make Irish coffee, plus a brief history of the delicious drink.

(Not a whiskey fan? Try these vodka cocktails instead.)

Table of Contents

What Is Irish Coffee?

Irish coffee is a specialty from Ireland and is often served in bars and restaurants. More specifically, I remember my grandma and great aunts and uncles sipping on Irish coffee in the mornings, afternoons, evenings, and especially during the holidays. That says Irish coffee is a great drink any time of the day or year.

But Irish coffee isn’t just for the grannycore crowd. Since the popular drink contains alcohol, you can sometimes find it on cocktail menus. Irish coffee is so versatile that it is not just popular with coffee connoisseurs. Because of its mild taste, it’s also well loved by many tea drinkers.

Quite simply, Irish coffee is a mixed drink made from coffee and whiskey. So far, so good.

The mixing ratio of the two ingredients is important. Ideally, the whiskey’s flavor combines with the coffee’s aromas so that the taste carries the whiskey. It’s best to use a coffee with a light roast, a balanced taste, and slight acidity. Choose a classic Irish whiskey, which is softer and sweeter than Scottish or even American. In addition, it’s not very smoky because manufacturers don’t dry the malt with smoke during the production process. Typically, Irish whiskey is triple distilled.

The History of Irish Coffee

The history of Irish coffee is a fun little story that takes place not long ago.

Irish coffee, as the name suggests, originated in Ireland and was invented by Joe Sheridan in the 1940s. Joe Sheridan was then the chef of a restaurant located at Foynes Airport.

Legend has it that severe weather stranded several American travelers at Foynes Airport on a cold winter evening. Bad weather prevented their plane from taking off for the US. Joe Sheridan served the soaked, frozen Americans a coffee with a shot of whiskey (probably to stop them from complaining) and a topping of whipped cream to warm them up.

The travelers loved the Irish coffee so much that Sheridan served it at the small airport from then on.

The American travelers made their way to the Shannon Airport and took the drink with them. That’s where travel writer Stanton Delaplane first tasted the Irish coffee recipe. After Delaplane got back to the states, his friend Jack Koeppler, owner of the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco, convinced Delaplane that their city needed its own version of the drink.

Both attempted to emulate the Irish drink, which, lore has it, caused some headaches. After some time, however, they managed to imitate Irish coffee’s authentic taste, and they served the first Irish coffee in the USA at the end of 1952.

Within a short time, the drink began its triumphant march to become a cult drink still popular in bars and restaurants today.

Real Irish Coffee Recipe

The original Irish coffee recipe contains only four ingredients: Irish whiskey, coffee, sugar, and cream.

First, prepare a robust coffee and set it aside. Now heat about two ounces of Irish whiskey with a teaspoon of sugar. When it comes to whiskey, you should go for a mild whiskey that doesn’t have such a pronounced smoky note. The sugar must dissolve in the whiskey, but don’t allow the whiskey to boil. This way, the alcohol stays in the drink.

As soon as the whiskey-sugar mixture begins to steam, remove it from the stove and pour it into a pre-warmed coffee mug (which you can now call your Irish coffee mug).

Now pour about eight ounces of coffee over the mixture and stir vigorously. Finally, add one to two ounces of unsweetened semi-whipped cream. The yummy cream floats on the top of the drink and doesn’t mix with the rest.

cup of irish coffee

How to Make Irish Coffee

Learning the Irish coffee recipe is pretty simple, but you’ll need a lot of practice to make it perfect for your tastebuds. Don’t be afraid to try different amounts of sugar, whiskey, coffee, and cream.

  • Prep Time 2 Minutes
  • Cook Time 2 Minutes
  • Total Time 45 Minutes
  • Serves 4 People
  • Calories 100 cal


  • 2 ounces Irish whiskey
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 8 ounces coffee
  • 1-2 ounces semi-whipped cream


  1. Start by preparing a cup of coffee. Set aside.
  2. Heat whiskey and sugar in a small saucepan until almost (but not) boiling.
  3. Pour mixture into mug with coffee, stir well.
  4. Top with whipped cream.


Coffee and whiskey are a wonderful combination and get along really well. As with everything, good alcoholic beverages complement and complete the variety of flavors of good coffee beans. Complex aromas and a round body combine to create a convincing taste experience.Irish coffee is a classic that has truly earned its place in the pantheon of classic whiskey-based mixed drinks.

How to Drink Irish Coffee

Now that you know the history of Irish coffee and you’ve perfected the Irish coffee recipe, it’s time to drink up.

How you want to drink Irish coffee is up to you — the ideal taste results when you drink the coffee through the sweet top layer of cream. Many connoisseurs use a spoon for drinking their Irish coffee, putting a little cream topping on every teaspoon. Some also stir their Irish coffee thoroughly so the cream mixes with the rest.

The Irish coffee is an ideal drink for rainy fall evenings. It tastes sweet and mild, and the strong coffee and whiskey give it a distinctive character, which coffee and whiskey connoisseurs both appreciate.

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JJ Smoak

Brooklyn native, accent-having, travel lover, wordsmith and bud enthusiast. Versed from the streets of NYC, mixed with some world influence, writer/editor and medical user extraordinaire, JJ is here to tell you like it is and guide you to the finest. Brooklyn's favorite feminine stoner, your neighborhood contributor, wrapping leaves like a bandage and bringing you along for the ride.

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