Original Irish Coffee


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A warm original Irish coffee is the perfect way to end an evening by the fire with friends or loved ones. Just a few simple ingredients and this drink is ready in no time.

Though typically served around St. Patrick’s Day, it can certainly be enjoyed year round.

Pin Original Irish Coffee to make later.

Overhead photo of two mugs of Irish Coffee with a whiskey bottle on a table.


The weather has finally taken a turn for the colder. Each year when that happens, I try to warm up with coffee drinks.

I love my caramel coffee for such occasions but recently took to enjoying original Irish coffee. I do like bourbon and whiskey and the Irish version isn’t a stretch for me. Read on to find out the difference between the whiskeys.

What is the difference between Irish and American whiskey?

You may think it’s the process in which the whiskey is made, or distilled, but it’s not. The primary difference is their ingredients. Both are amber in color but Irish whiskey is made from barley while American whiskey is made from rye, wheat, or corn.

Irish whiskey can also be a blend of barley and malt. It’s always important to use quality ingredients and what you like. I’ve used a single-grain Irish whiskey from Egan’s.

It’s aged a minimum of 8 years in American oak barrels which also adds to the flavor. It’s slightly sweet with the nuance of warm spice. Irish whiskey, overall, gives a lighter and less sweet flavor than its American counterpart.

Front view of a mug of Irish coffee and a liquor bottle in the background.


Why use brown sugar over white sugar?

Plain and simple. White sugar has no molasses in it. The process to make white sugar removes the molasses from the sugar cane. The process to make brown sugar puts it back. The result? A richer flavor for your coffee.

Did you know you can make brown sugar at home? Into one cup of white sugar mix one tablespoon of molasses. Stir until the sugar is completely coated. Use immediately or store in an airtight container.

Two mugs of Original Irish coffee next to a bottle of whiskey on a table.


So why is it Original Irish coffee?

Traditionally Irish coffee is served in a footed glass mug, which I do not have. I used the only glass mugs I have, which were my Mother’s.

But the original part really goes back to the use of whiskey and brown sugar as well as the fact it originated in Ireland. But the REAL secret is the cream. It’s lightly whisked and then gently poured so it floats on top of the coffee.

It is impossible to use unwhipped cream. Trust me I tried. It just mixes right in. You want the slightly whipped cream to float because it’s part of the drinking experience.

The coffee comes through the cream as you sip. Interestingly, this concoction has only been around since 1942 when a young chef first served it in Limerick on a cold night.

Two mugs of Irish coffee with a shot glass of whiskey and a bottle of Irish whiskey on a table.

You’ll Love This Recipe Because

  • It’s easy and you’ll learn a new technique.
  • It will take the chill off on a winter night.
  • There are only four ingredients and you probably have them on hand if you have a well stocked bar.

More Coffee Drinks to Enjoy

Like this Original Irish Coffee, the drinks below are intended for adult enjoyment because they include alcohol.

Original Irish Coffee

Warm-up with a mug of original Irish coffee.
5 from 26 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Beverages and Cocktails
Cuisine: Irish
Servings: 1 serving


  • 6 ounces brewed black coffee
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar or to taste
  • 1 1/2 ounces Irish Whiskey
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream


  • You will need a mug, preferably a glass one. Fill the mug with very hot water and let stand for 2 minutes.
  • Empty the water from the mug. Add the brown sugar, then add brewed coffee and stir.
  • Stir in the Irish Whiskey.
  • Place heavy cream in a mixing bowl and whisk until frothy, but pourable. You can also use an electric mixer.
  • Hold a spoon upside down over the mug and carefully pour the cream over the spoon, allowing the cream to float on top of the coffee. Do not mix.

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  1. 5 stars
    I have tried making Irish coffee before but I love the brown sugar idea in your recipe. It really adds to the flavor and your recipe had just the right proportions. Thanks!

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