Traditional Irish Coffee

The traditional Irish Coffee is a hot coffee cocktail made with brown sugar and Irish whiskey, then topped with sweet whipped cream. Sip on this warm beverage on winter nights, holiday mornings or for St. Patrick's Day!

an Irish coffee next to a bottle of jameson

Traditional Irish Coffee

One of my favorite parts of holidays is post-dinner dessert and coffee. It's truthfully the best part of the meal, if you ask me!

There's just something about a hot cup of coffee that settles a meal and makes me feel all cozy!

A lot of people love a post-dinner cocktail. I am totally in support of that, especially if I don't have to give up my cup of after-dinner coffee.

This Irish Coffee cocktail is a traditional after-dinner drink, which is just coffee and Irish cream or Irish whiskey most of the time. Warm and cozy, this cocktail is perfect for sipping on after a great meal.

grated chocolate on top of whipped cream in a glass mug of coffee

Why You'll Love This Recipe

Irish coffee is a classic after-dinner cocktail to enjoy with dessert — or even as dessert. You're going to love it for a few reasons:

  • Coffee lovers will adore this warm, boozy coffee cocktail.
  • It's made with just four simple ingredients.
  • You can use your favorite method of brewing coffee.

This is one of my favorite recipes to pull out for the holidays, when I really want to impress my guests. Thanks to its Irish history, you could also enjoy it for St. Patrick's Day.


You only need four ingredients for this Irish cocktail:

  • hot coffee
  • brown sugar
  • Irish whiskey
  • whipped cream

Best Coffee for Irish Coffee

Use your favorite method of brewing coffee to make a traditional Irish coffee. I recommend a medium to dark roast, but if you have a favorite, just use that!

Whether you use a Keurig, a coffee maker or the pour-over method, as long as the coffee is delicious and HOT, it'll be great in this coffee drink.

If you like flavored coffees, you can have fun putting a spin on this classic cocktail.

Also, feel free to make this drink with decaf coffee! If caffeine is a concern, there's nothing wrong with decaf — especially before bedtime!

spooning whipped cream on top of a mug of coffee with whiskey.

Best whipped cream for Irish Coffee

I've always been quite picky about whipped cream, but I've found that making your own whipped cream from heavy whipping cream is truly the best way to enjoy it. You can add a dash of your favorite flavors, like vanilla if you so choose!

If you need a shortcut, you can use canned whipped cream, but I recommend homemade whipped cream because the canned stuff tends to melt too fast when it meets the hot coffee.


You can use granulated sugar or simple syrup if you don't have brown sugar on hand.

Irish whiskey is traditional in this recipe, but you can substitute other whiskeys like bourbon.

Irish cream liqueur (such as Baileys) or coffee liqueur (like Kahlua) are also common, though you may want to omit or cut back on the added sugar as both of these are pretty sweet on their own. Or try Homemade Irish Cream!

If you want a non-alcoholic Irish coffee, simply omit the alcohol! A fancy coffee with whipped cream and a sprinkling of chocolate shavings can still be fun and festive.

three mugs of Irish coffee sitting on a countertop.

How to Make Irish Coffee

Making this 4-ingredient cocktail is so easy! You are going to fall in love with, it I just know it.

First, brew a pot of coffee. If you want to get into flavored coffees, hazelnut is one of my favorites for this cocktail.

If you're making homemade whipped cream, go ahead and make that while you wait for the coffee to brew.

brown sugar in a glass mug.
coffee is added to the brown sugar in the mug.

Add your brown sugar to your mug, then top with hot coffee.

coffee and sugar are stirred together.
adding whiskey to a mug of coffee for Irish coffee

Stir until the sugar has dissolved completely, about 30 seconds or so.

Then stir in the Irish whiskey. No one will mind if you're a little heavy-handed!

whipped cream is added to a mug of Irish coffee
spooning whipped cream on top of a mug of coffee with whiskey.

Then top with a big dollop of whipped cream. You want it to have a thick layer of cream on top.

whipped cream has been added to the mug of hot coffee.

Then garnish with sprinkles, chocolate shavings or a pinch of cinnamon, and serve immediately!

Tips for Success

Use fresh, hot coffee when making Irish coffee. Coffee that's been heated up from sitting in the pot all day will not taste as good!

Store-bought whipped cream melts when it meets hot liquid, so use freshly-made, homemade whipped cream for the creamiest topping.

Make it gorgeous with a sprinkle of grated chocolate.

You might also like this Bailey's Mudslide!

Related: 45 Easter Brunch Recipes


What type of whiskey for Irish coffee?

Any kind of Irish whiskey, such as Jameson, works well.

Can I use a different kind of liquor for Irish coffee?

Though Irish whiskey is traditional, you can substitute some liqueurs for delicious results. Irish cream liqueur such as Baileys or coffee liqueur such as Kahlua can be used in place of whiskey. Bourbon whiskey also works as a replacement.

More cocktail recipes

Be sure to check out these other amazing sounding cocktails! I'll admit these ladies are far more fancy when it comes to cocktails and my friend Susannah even has an ebook, The Ultimate Home Bar Guide, with over 100 cocktail ideas!

Traditional Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee is a delicious way to end a special meal. Enjoy in the winter or to celebrate St. Patrick's Day!
5 from 46 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1 drink
Author: Madison | A Joyfully Mad Kitchen


  • 7 oz coffee
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon Irish whiskey
  • ¼ cup whipped cream


  • Add your coffee and brown sugar to your mug, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Stir in the whiskey and top with the whipped cream.
  • Garnish with chocolate shavings or cinnamon.


Serving: 8ounces | Calories: 47kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Sodium: 6mg | Sugar: 7g

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  1. This is the G.O.A.T winter adult bevvie!!! But I've never made one for myself, until you posted the recipe and I gave it a try! Was wonderful, just what I needed 😉

  2. Used my favorite dark roast to make this Irish coffee, and it turned out fantastic. The brown sugar adds a lovely depth of flavor and the whipped cream is the perfect finishing touch.

  3. Your Irish coffee recipe is now my go-to for cozy chilly nights. I used my pour-over method, and it turned out really delicious. The whiskey gave it that extra warmth.

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  9. This drink sounds INSANELY delicious, and I wish I'd had it to ring in the new year with! That said, I bet we can make it happen sometime this year when we all are in the same place and can sip to an awesome year. Here's to 2017 being the best yet!

  10. Irish Coffee was always my grandmother's fav after-dinner drink, and I am so sure she would have loved this one! Having one in her honor tonight 🙂