It’s that time of year where the nights are cool and the days are pleasant. On those nights you want something to warm your bones, there’s nothing better than an Irish Coffee. But what is it and how do you make it?

Irish coffee (Irish: caife Gaelach) is a cocktail consisting of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar (some recipes specify that brown sugar should be used), stirred, and topped with thick cream. The coffee is drunk through the cream. The original recipe explicitly uses cream that has not been whipped, although drinks made with whipped cream are often sold as “Irish coffee”.

Black coffee is poured into the mug. Whiskey and at least one level teaspoon of sugar is stirred in until fully dissolved. The sugar is essential for floating liquid cream on top. Thick cream is carefully poured over the back of a spoon initially held just above the surface of the coffee and gradually raised a little. The layer of cream will float on the coffee without mixing. The coffee is drunk through the layer of cream.

What You Need

Makes 1 cup

6 ounces hot, freshly brewed coffee
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
heavy cream

Heatproof glass or mug


  1. Preheat your mug, then fill with coffee: Pour hot water into a mug or heatproof glass to take the chill off. Pour out the water. This will also prevent your glass from cracking. Fill the mug about 3/4 full with the coffee.
  2. Add sweetener: Add the granulated and brown sugars and stir until fully dissolved.
  3. Add Irish whiskey: Add the whiskey and stir to incorporate.
  4. Top with heavy cream:  Pour the heavy cream slowly over a warm spoon onto the coffee, being careful not to break the coffee’s surface. This takes some practice. Drink while hot!

Recipes Notes
Some people substitute whipped cream for heavy cream. If you prefer whipped cream, lightly whipped will give you a frothy cream collar on top. If you want to pile the cream high, you’ll need to whip it to medium-stiff peaks.