Whether you’re looking to cozy up with something warm on a chilly night or need a cocktail that’ll put a little post-dinnertime pep in your step, Irish Coffees are the answer.
Guaranteed, this classic cocktail is way easier to make at home than you think, and if you’re planning to use salted caramel sauce as your sweetener, you can expect it to be way more delicious as well! Four ingredients and five minutes are all you need.
These Salted Caramel Irish Coffees are special enough for holiday celebrations like St. Paddy’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, yet simple enough to whip up on a whim! Looking for more hot cocktails to add to your line-up? Try our Spiked Hot Chocolate next!
WHAT IS AN IRISH COFFEE?
This iconic coffee cocktail is traditionally served hot and steamy, with a shot of Irish whiskey and a whipped cream topping. The coffee can be sweetened with white or brown sugar, or (our personal favorite) salted caramel sauce.
HOW TO MAKE AN IRISH COFFEE
- Brew coffee
- Add coffee to a mug (or desired glass)
- Stir in sweetener of choice and Irish whiskey
- Top with whipped cream
WHAT’S IN AN IRISH COFFEE?
- Irish Whiskey
- Fresh Brewed Coffee
- Whipped Cream (for garnish)
WHAT TYPE OF WHISKEY SHOULD I USE?
Much like wine, whiskey has a vast flavor profile. It can range from smooth-sipping to bitter and smokey, light to heavy on the palate, and any particular distillery can produce a product with a slightly different flavor profile, from oaky to fruity to spicy and more.
But, if you’re looking for the best spirit to spike your Irish Coffee, if can only be Irish Whiskey! Irish Whiskey is renowned for being light, smooth sipping, with hints of vanilla. Jameson is by far the most popular whiskey for spiking this coffee cocktail.
HOW MUCH WHISKEY GOES IN?
You can add anywhere from 1-to-2 ounces of Irish Whiskey to an Irish Coffee. This is mostly dependent on your tolerance, combined with just how much you enjoy the flavor of whiskey in-and-of-itself. The standard for the cocktail is a 1-ounce pour.
THOUGHTS ON SWEETENERS
Brown sugar and granulated sugar (or a combination of the two) is by far the most common sweetener you’ll find in Irish Coffees.
However, if you want to make your cocktail truly extraordinary, it’s salted caramel for the win. Caramel is made up of sugar cooked with cream and butter in a saucepan over heat until the mixture has turned browned and toasty. The end result is a decadent mix of sweet, rich, liquid deliciousness. In addition to that fun little tidbit, you should also know salt intensifies the flavor of anything it touches.
These two reasons combined are what makes salted caramel an extra flavorful, distinctly delicious ingredient in this drink, and we hereby deem it the perfect ingredient for both sweetening and adding an extra layer of richness to your Irish Coffee.
You can typically find salted caramel sauce at the grocery store either on the aisle with chocolate sauce/fudge and other ice cream toppings or on an end-cap of the freezer section, near the ice cream.
HOW MUCH SWEETENER SHOULD YOU ADD TO AN IRISH COFFEE?
The amount of sugar you add to your cocktail is solely dependent on how sweet you typically drink your coffee…like, in general.
There’s really no right or wrong answer — if you like a sweeter coffee, you’ll probably want to add a tablespoon or so of sugar to your cocktail, if you like it less sweet, a teaspoon will probably do the trick for you. The same goes if you’re using salted caramel sauce to sweeten your drink!
IRISH CREAM COFFEE
Other sweeteners you might find in an Irish Coffee fall into the category of a liqueur. A liqueur is an alcoholic drink made of distilled spirits and extra flavoring agents such as sugar, fruit, herbs, and more. They’re typically more sweet than boozy on the palate, and can be great for adding extra flavor to this cocktail!
By far, the most popular liqueur option for adding extra sweetness (and booze) to an Irish Coffee is Bailey’s Irish Cream, a creamy, whiskey-based liqueur with notes of chocolate and vanilla.
When Bailey’s is added to the mix, the cocktail is transformed into an Irish Cream Coffee.
HOW MUCH BAILEY’S DO YOU ADD TO AN IRISH CREAM COFFEE?
If you are using Bailey’s Irish Cream in addition to Irish whiskey, add anywhere from a 1/2-ounce to a 1-ounce pour. For a much sweeter cocktail, you can omit the Irish whiskey altogether and use up to 2-ounces of Bailey’s in your cocktail.
A WORD ON WHIPPED CREAM AND COCKTAILS
You can make the whipped cream from scratch if you’d like, or use Redi-Whip canned whipped cream. Although we’ve typically got a fresh-is-best mentality around these parts, when it comes to topping cocktails, we’ve found the aerosol can is much easier to work with. If you’re using homemade whipped cream, be sure to only whip it to soft peaks or it will be too heavy to float across the top of the coffee.
5 MORE COCKTAILS YOU’LL LOVE
If you want to add an extra special touch to your Irish Coffees, it's salted caramel sauce all the way! Perfect for holiday celebrations like St. Paddy's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
- 3/4 cup (6-ounces) fresh-brewed coffee
- 1 ounce Irish whiskey
- 1 tablespoon salted caramel sauce or brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons whipped cream
Add the coffee, whiskey, and sweetener of your choice to a mug or glass and stir to combine.
Top with whipped cream and drizzle with salted caramel, if desired. Serve and enjoy!