Enjoying an Irish Coffee while in Ireland is a must for anyone visiting the Emerald Isle.  A popular Irish cocktail that can be served and easily drank any time of day, it’s one of those drinks that warms you, relaxes you, and just puts you in a jolly good mood.  Especially if you love coffee, you’ll easily find yourself going for a second or third serving of this coffee drink.  But be careful!!  This coffee drinks packs a punch thanks to one of its key ingredients, Irish Whiskey.

Made with just four simple ingredients, you’d think Irish Coffee would be easy enough to make that it would taste the same no matter where you have it.  That’s simply not the case; and, it always seems to taste better when you drink it in Ireland.  Perhaps it’s the constant chill in the Irish air that makes this hot bevie go down so easily morning, noon and night.  Perhaps it’s the creamy Irish dairy that makes it so irresistible. Some say it’s the sweet Irish whiskey that truly makes it pleasurable.  I say it’s a combination of all three.

Roche's Pub, Duncannon, County Wexford, Ireland

Roche’s Pub, Duncannon, County Wexford, Ireland

So, whether you are visiting a small pub in a local village trying to warm up from the chill coming off the bog, or are in the heart of an Irish city trying to warm up next to a turf-burning fire, know that nothing will warm you up and relax you faster than a perfect Irish Coffee…so order one!

The best Irish Coffee in Ireland

There will be many places boasting that they mastered the secrets of making the perfect Irish Coffee, but the best I’ve ever tasted was at my aunt’s home in County Kerry.  She either has the magic touch or maybe it’s the dairy from those special Kerry cows.  Sadly for you, unless you are traveling with me, you’ll never be able to experience her delicious Irish Coffee.  Instead, you will have to settle for the 2nd best Irish Coffee, which I feel is served up at The Old Jameson Distillery in Dublin.

irish coffee

Most folks go to the Old Jameson Distillery for the distillery tour and a tasting of Jameson straight up.  However, it should also be a stop on an itinerary just for the perfect Irish Coffee.  At the Distillery on Bow Street, you’ll find a small bar on the ground floor where the bartender is making Irish Coffees one after another.  Definitely stop in and try one if you find yourself in Dublin, and if you have time, stick around for the tour.

The perfect Irish Coffee at Home

After a wee bit of a wait at the Old Jameson Distillery for my tour, I had plenty of time to sit and watch the bartender make up Irish Coffees (after Irish Coffees and Irish Coffees).  In fact, I think those were the only drinks he made in the entire 40 minutes I sat there, and it was pretty much nonstop!  My focused attention paid off because I now can make a perfect Irish Coffee, too (at least I think it’s perfect).  Here’s what I learned.

irish coffee

Start with a heaping tablespoon of raw brown sugar at the bottom of an Irish Coffee glass.  Add just shy of a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey, or any Irish Whiskey of your choice.  Fill the glass with coffee about ¾ of the way. Stir, and add a healthy serving of slightly whipped fresh cream on top. (Personally, I think it’s best served when it’s cold and rainy outside, or anytime, if a handsome Irish bartender mixes it up for you).

4 Simple Ingredients and a Proper Glass Mug is all you need!

8oz Footed Irish Coffee Glass

irish coffee

Use a traditional glass Irish Coffee mug.  You can find these sold in stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond or Target, and most are made to hold 8 ounces. Libby makes these, retailing for about $10 for a set of four (or you can buy them individually at Bed, Bath and Beyond for about $3).   Be sure to warm your glass up before you add your ingredients.  Prep your glass by simply pouring hot water in it, filling it up about ¾ of the way and let it sit for a minute or two before emptying it to start making your drink.  (Using a glass mug also makes it easy to see if you have all your sugar dissolved before finishing off your drink with the cream).

Brown Sugar

irish coffee

Sugar is an important component to making the perfect Irish Coffee because it not only sweetens up the drink, but it helps the cream float on top.  Some recipes will use white granulated sugar.  Stick to the original recipe, which calls for brown sugar.  Add a full tablespoon to the glass.

Irish Whiskey

You might find that you have some good ole American Whiskey behind your bar, but you aren’t making an alky Americano, you’re making an Irish Coffee, so make sure you use Irish Whiskey.  Irish Whiskey is on the sweeter end of the market for whiskeys (and bourbons and scotches) and is known for its drinkability. Most people will know the most popular brand, Jameson, and probably have heard of Tullamore Dew and Bushmill’s, too.

Whichever is your favorite, you’ll want to add one Irish measure of it.  Now, note that in Ireland, a standard shot, or measure, is less than a standard shot in the US (35.5ml to 44ml).  If you use a full American shot, your Irish Coffee will definitely have a stronger taste.  I prefer to use just shy of a shot (equals about 1/4 oz less than a full shot) to get the perfect balance, and thus, the perfect Irish Coffee.

Brewed Coffee

irish coffee

You’ll want a mild filtered coffee, so brew up a regular breakfast blend in your coffee maker and skip the Italian Roast for this drink.  Save the espresso for the martini version, because it is just too overpowering for the smooth and mellow Irish Whiskey that goes into this drink.

Fresh Cream

irish coffee

Don’t even think about pulling out the half-and-half creamer for this coffee drink.  There’s no way around it, if you want a perfect Irish Coffee, you are going to have to whip up some fresh cream. You’ll want to only partially whip your cream, which is easy enough to do in a few seconds with a cold bowl and a whisk. I like to put my bowl and whisk in the freezer as I’m preparing my coffee to prep it for whipping up the cream.  You don’t want the cream to be thick like whipped cream.  This is Irish Coffee not hot chocolate!   You’ll be layering this on the top of your drink, so it needs to be pourable.  When ready, pour it over the back of a spoon over your coffee so it lays on top instead of sinking to the bottom.

That’s all there is to it!  Now you are ready to enjoy your perfect Irish Coffee.  Stir no more, just drink it through the cream and enjoy!

Irish coffee recipe

Where have you had the best Irish Coffee?  Share in the comments below so we can can check it out, too!

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irish coffee