How to Make a Traditional Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee Recipe

Irish Coffee
Irish Coffee

This drink contains whiskey, coffee and cream. What could be more relaxing to drink and easy to make than this traditional recipe from Ireland. I have included lots of my own photos of the step by step instructions as this recipe was being prepared.

Irish Coffee San Francisco

I explain how the Irish Coffee Recipe was first brought to San Francisco by Stanton Delaplane and how the recipe was perfected at the Buena Vista in on 10th November 1952.

How to Make an Irish Coffee

I have also posted a video that I made while my sister made the Irish coffees. In the ingredients I have specified Jamesons Irish Whiskey because of the superior flavour. But you can use any of your favourite whiskies whether Irish, Scottish or otherwise.

What ever you prefer will work just as well. The ingredients amounts are for each Irish coffee glass. Just multiply by how many you are making.

Irish Coffee Recipe
Irish Coffee Recipe

Ingredients for an Irish Coffee Drink - One serving

  • 1 measure Jameson’s Irish Whiskey
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Instant Coffee
  • 2 teaspoons Sugar Brown or White
  • 3 tablespoons Whipping Cream
Irish Coffee Recipe
Irish Coffee Recipe

Irish Coffee

Step by step Instructions for making Irish Coffee

Step 1

Always prepare the glasses by warming them with lukewarm water before you do anything else

Step 2

Prepare the Cream

Always use whipping cream, Double cream in Ireland. Single cream will sink to the bottom of the glass.

  • Take a small empty water bottle
  • Add the cream to fit a third of the bottle
  • Close tightly
  • Shake strongly for approximately 30 seconds
  • Leave aside

Irish Coffee Recipe
Irish Coffee Recipe

Step 3

  • Empty the water from the glasses
  • Add the two spoons of sugar, white or brown to each glass
  • Add one and a half spoons of coffee to each glass
  • Add one measure of Jameson’s Irish whiskey to each glass

Step 4

  • Boil the water again
  • Add the boiling water to one glass
  • Stir in the water and ingredients very well
  • Do the same for each glass

Irish Coffee
Irish Coffee
Homemade Irish Coffee Drink
Homemade Irish Coffee Drink

Placing the cream on to the top of each Irish Coffee drink

Step 5

  • Use a clean spoon for this important part of the recipe
  • Give the bottle that contains the cream a further ten second vigorous shake
  • Hold the spoon over the glass at a slight angle
  • Slowly pour the cream onto the spoon
  • Let the cream fall off the spoon into the glass and it will not sink

Irish Coffee Recipe
Irish Coffee Recipe
Irish Coffee
Irish Coffee

Optional extras to top off your Irish Coffee

You can add either a sprinkle of coffer granules, cinnamon or cocoa powder to the cream once the drink is made.

This will give a nice visual effect but also add a unique flavour to your own home made Irish Coffee.

Irish Coffee
Irish Coffee

Where was the drink Irish Coffee invented

It was 1943 when the owner of Foyne's Restaurant in the terminal building at the airbase at Foyne's Port was asked to reopen his doors.

Aeroplanes known as Flying Boats landed here on their way to America. Joe Sheriden was the Irish Chef who came into work that night when word the Air Boat that had left that eveining for Canada and New York was returning because of bad weather.

Foyne's Port in Limerick Ireland Opened in 1937

This was only a stopover for the refueling of the plane and where passengers could have a meal and drink at the restaurant. Many politicians and Hollywood stars would stop off at Foynes Port as the boat planes refueled on their way home to the USA.

So Joe decided to make the weary passengers a warm drink. He made strong coffee then added some Irish Whiskey and brown sugar. The passengers loved it and asked what kind of coffee they were drinking. Some speculated it was Brazilian Coffee. Joe told then no it was Irish Coffee.

A few weeks later he had perfected the drink by adding partially whipped cream which he expertly managed to add to the top of the hot whisky and coffee. He brought it into the office of the owner of the restaurant, Brendan O’Regan and it was decided to add it to the menu.

So that is how Irish Coffee was invented by Joe Sheridan and got its name

Irish Coffee Sans Francisco

Passengers on their way to the Air Boat
Passengers on their way to the Air Boat | Source

Shannon International Airport

Foynes' Port closed when the new airport for land planes opened in 1945 just across the River Shannon Estuary

This was called Shannon International Airport. The restaurant and coffee shop also relocated there so the chef who invented Irish Coffee went to work at Shannon Airport too.

Stanton Delaplane

A writer for the San Francisco Chronicle Stanton Delaplane was one of those passengers ten years later in 1952.

While there. he had an Irish Coffee drink. He liked it so much that when he arrived back in America he set about recreating it.

Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco

He went to the Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco and himself and Joe Koeppler the owner spent many hours trying to recreate the perfect Irish drink.

Folklore has many stories of the two men getting drunk after unsuccessfully trying to perfect it. One time Delaplane was so unsteady on his feet it is said he nearly passed out on the cable car tracks on his way home.

They eventually gave up trying to get the cream to float on the top of the Irish Coffee. So Joe Koeppler purposedly travvelled back to Limerick to get a personal lesson from Joe Sheriden.

Irish Coffee was first served to customers in America at the Buena Vista in Sans Francisco on 10th November 1952

Because Stanton Delaplane wrote many articles in the San Francisco Chronicle about travelling and mentioned Irish Coffee a lot it was down to him that it became so popular in the US.

Joe Sheridan was offered a job at Buena Vista so emigrated to America.

How to Make an Irish Coffee Drink

Irish Coffee

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Irish Coffee

We normally have this relaxing drink at home during the late evening. So the video is a little dark in places but you can see exactly how we made this favourite Irish whiskey drink.

You can watch the video below.

Jameson Distillery Museum

There is an excellent visitor’s centre in Dublin Ireland that tells the story of the Jameson Distillery and this Irish Whisky.

I have been to the centre myself and it is well worth a visit if you are in the country.

I have written a comprehensive article on this subject which you can read by clicking the link here. Visit the Jameson Distillery Museum in Dublin Ireland

There are lots of photos and videos so you can experience this tour online too.

All Images are copyright of L.M.Reid unless otherwise stated

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Comments 13 comments

vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

These are great step-by-step instructions for making Irish coffee! We toured the Jameson distillery while in Northern Ireland, and the Irish family we stayed with prepared the authentic coffee for us. This brings back memories! Now we know how to make it ourselves. : )


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this detailed recipe :))


viking305 profile image

viking305 4 years ago from Ireland Author

Yes making Irish coffee at home is very easy as you can see from the video. It does make a very nice hot alcoholic drink at night.

vespawoolf I am delighted you enjoyed your visit to Ireland and got to tour the Jameson Distillery Visitors Centre. Now you can make the Irish coffee yourself and and re live some nice memories.

Mhatter99 thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment


Teredrade 4 years ago

Great recipe, can the hot water and instant coffee be substituted with espresso?


viking305 profile image

viking305 4 years ago from Ireland Author

Yes Teredrade you can substitute the instant coffee with espresso. If you want to experiment even more with this drink recipe you can substitute the whiskey with Tia Maria and this is called a Calypso. Or add brandy instead of whiskey and you have a French Coffee. My personal favourite is a Calypso


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Ooooh yum! I love Irish coffee even in summer! My husband just picked up some devon cream (he's British and addicted to using it on whatever works) so now we have another great reason to whip some up :) Rated 5 stars. Thanks!


viking305 profile image

viking305 4 years ago from Ireland Author

I love excuses to use cream too. Irish Coffee is one of the nicer ways to use whiskey as a hot drink to relax with.

Thanks for the votes too


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Bookmarked, as I've always wanted to try this. However, if it is in the evening, I will have to go for decaf, to avoid being awake until the wee hours.

Shared, up and awesome.


Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Congrats on a great step by step for correct Irish coffee!! I have had it made wrong so many times abroad, most common mistakes are the cream and spoon! Great photos showing exact method. Irish coffee is the only way i drink whiskey and as much as i enjoy after a meal, i also prefer Calypso with Tia maria or enjoy a Bailey's coffee.Thanks for sharing! Voting up and sharing .


viking305 profile image

viking305 4 years ago from Ireland Author

Suzie Irish coffee is easy to make but a lot of staff in pubs seem to do it wrong. Yes Calypso is nice too. Thanks for sharing and votes


viking305 profile image

viking305 4 years ago from Ireland Author

Brett this drink is a really nice way to use coffee and whiskey. Thanks for the share and votes


Garlic Angel profile image

Garlic Angel 3 years ago from Dublin

Very nice. I love Irish Coffee. Very good instructions on making them at home I must give it a go. Thank you for sharing viking305. Voted up

Garlic Angel


viking305 profile image

viking305 2 years ago from Ireland Author

Garlic Angel you should give it a go because making Irish Coffee is very easy and tastes great. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment

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