irish coffee

the irish coffee

the irish coffee — a staple cocktail for any bartender worth his salt and when made right is as good (if not better) than a cold guinness from the green isles any day of the week. although we may be biased on that one!

so, to celebrate st. patrick’s day here’s our take on an irish coffee with a cool twist. a recipe worth its weight in leprechaun gold. 😉

only irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat

alex levine
but, before we get into it, there’re a few essentials you need to know beforehand…
irish coffee

bartending essentials

whether you fancy yourself as tom cruise in the film cocktail or are trying a cocktail out for the first time, the one essential piece of equipment you’re going to need is a cocktail shaker. contrary to what you may think, not all shakers were made equal! and just like your brew tools, different shakers work best with different cocktails. 

for example, a two-piece shaker is great for making an espresso martini because the larger volume creates much more airy foam which you can pour on top. for an irish coffee, we recommend getting a three-piece which is better for shaking and pouring the heavier cream due to its smaller spout and built-in strainer that can hold the ice.

next, you’ll need a mixing spoon for stirring and adding your cocktail ingredients. a jigger or shot glass for measuring your liquids and finally some quality ice that’s been chilled at -20 degrees celsius. it may not seem like it now but using slightly harder ice means it won’t melt as fast and dilute your cocktail — because no-one likes a watery, dull beverage.

now that we’ve covered the basics let’s get to the coffee – the key ingredient in an irish coffee! as a proud home barista you may think that a perfectly brewed coffee would make the perfect cocktail. we were under the same impression but we’re both wrong!

a properly brewed espresso gives your cocktail a bitter and harsh finish. we’ve found it’s actually better to under-extract your shot to reduce its intensity. this same recommendation applies if you’re filter brewing.

better yet, we’ve found that a well-made cold brew concentrate using a naturally processed coffee (we like either a fruity panamanian or ethiopian guji) gives your cocktail that body and depth of flavour that holds up well with the sourness of the whiskey.

if you make enough concentrate you can even use it to make coffee bitters or create your own coffee liqueur!

a final note on your coffee — coffee beans are great for infusing with spirits. a great example is adding a few beans to some grand marnier and leaving it to chill overnight. simply delicious.

enough about the prep, let’s get down to making your irish coffee…

cocktail sketch

cocktail ingredients

40ml of hot espresso / filtered coffee


40ml of chilled cold brew concentrate

20ml of vanilla sugar syrup

10ml of brown sugar

20ml of good irish whiskey 

30ml of single-cream

x2 large ice-cubes

cocktail shaker sketch

bartending tools

x1 whiskey glass

x1 three-piece cocktail shaker

x1 cocktail strainer

x1 jigger (measuring cup)

x1 stirring spoon

how to make an irish coffee

irish coffee

step 01. brew your chosen coffee using either an under-extracted double espresso shot or filter coffee. if you’re using a cold brew concentrate, take it out of the fridge

step 02. warm your chosen glass then add two large cubes of hardened ice

step 03. measure out 20ml of the vanilla sugar syrup, 20ml of irish whiskey, and 40ml of hot coffee and pour over the ice-cubes

step 04. give the mix a good stir to connect all the layers

step 05. measure out your cream and brown sugar into the shaker and lightly shake — you’re aiming to keep the cream fairly liquid so that it floats on the top of your coffee mix

step 06. pour the cream out on top of the coffee so it forms a nice even layer. don’t worry about pouring too quickly as the sugars from the syrup will hold the cream on top

sit back and enjoy the contrast between the sour whiskey, hot coffee, and cold creamy sweetness.


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