How To Make a Traditional Irish Coffee

An Irish coffee is the perfect adult beverage to celebrate St.Patrick’s Day. There are many American versions out there, but this is the true authentic Irish way to make it!

Glass of Irish coffee with a bottle of Jameson Irish whiskey in the background

An Irish coffee requires only a few simple ingredients, and I can attest (as not much of a coffee lover) that this drink is such a treat. It’s nicely sweet, but not overly so, creamy with just enough whiskey for the perfect aftertaste.

At home in Ireland, we’ve always just served it alone, but by all means break out the Irish scones or soda bread for a late afternoon (probably not a morning!?) treat. Heck, you could even serve it alongside some Irish Stew or Shepherd’s Pie if the traditional pint of Guinness isn’t quite your thing!

Close up of the distinct layers in the Irish coffee

Like any coffee drink, the quality of the coffee is important. Not instant coffee granules, please! Only freshly brewed coffee. In our home, we like to use our Nespresso, since it brews in such a way that it leaves a thick “creme” at the top of the coffee. That’s why my Irish coffee has 3 distinct layers, as opposed to just two. I think it looks a little fancier!

The other important thing to remember is to use Irish whiskey. Jameson is usually the go-to, but Paddy Old Irish Whiskey or Tullamore Dew are two other excellent Irish whiskies (that the Irish actually do drink!).

Pouring whiskey into the black coffee

Finally, in order for the cream to settle on top and not disperse throughout the coffee, you will need to slowly pour it over the back of a warm spoon. It makes all the difference in how it looks! Spot what I’m doing wrong in the photo below – the spoon is not upside down! doh!- and you can see how the cream instantly sinks.

Adding cream over a warm spoon into the coffee

I hope you’ll enjoy celebrating St.Patrick’s Day just like the Irish do with this delicious Irish Coffee!

Traditional Irish Coffee

traditional Irish coffee in a glass coffee cup
A creamy and perfectly sweet drink to celebrate St.Patrick's like the Irish do!
Jenna Shaughnessy
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Serving Size 1


  • warmed teaspoon


  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 4 oz black coffee freshly brewed
  • 1.5 oz Irish whiskey
  • 1 oz partly whipped cream


  • Add brown sugar to a glass
  • Pour in the hot coffee. Mix together until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the whiskey and stir again.
  • Allow the mixture to rest for a few seconds before pouring the cream over the back of a warmed spoon, allowing it to gently settle on top of the coffee.
  • Serve immediately.


The cream does not need to be whipped at all, but the added thickness does help it to settle better on top. Partly whipped means it’s just starting to thicken, so half of it is lightly whipped but the rest is still runny.

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