I learned how to make an authentic San Francisco style Irish coffee the first time I visited SF about 4 years ago. Growing up, my idea of Irish coffee was Irish cream (Bailey’s) and coffee. Tasty, yes. But not really an Irish coffee… at all.
Turns out, San Francisco is all about its Irish coffee recipe. Buena Vista Cafe in San Fran is actually famous for introducing Irish coffee to the US, after the recipe was adapted from the drink’s original Irish creator, Joe Sheridan.
Ingredients in Irish Coffee
Irish coffee contains Irish whiskey (who would have guessed), sugar, and real whipped cream. The whipped cream adds a sweet, floating creamy collar and serves as your “cream.” Plus, it resembles a freshly poured Guinness with a frothy head.
How to Make Irish Coffee
Brew your favorite medium roast coffee, nothing with artificial flavors like hazelnut or French vanilla. Add 1-2 teaspoons of sugar, an ounce of Irish whiskey (I like Jameson’s or Tullamore DEW), and top with a float of very lightly whipped cream by pouring gently over a spoon. Almost as if you were making a black and tan. This is the way Irish coffee was meant to be!
Sure you can buy bottled whipped cream and just use that as a shortcut, the real stuff is just way better and more authentic. Just whatever you do, don’t use cool whip. Please, no.
How Do I Make Slightly Whipped Cream, Shawn?
I get it, you don’t want to whip out the Kitchen Aid to make an Irish coffee, screw that. Luckily, we don’t have to…and I wouldn’t recommend it anyway because we don’t want the whipped cream too thick.
My favorite whipped cream hack in the entire world: shake whipping cream in a mason jar for about 45 seconds. BOOM. Instant whipped cream. It’s magical—and the perfect consistency for my Irish coffee. If you go too far and it gets too thick, you can stir in a little extra cream to loosen.
You can keep shaking the cream for a minute or two and get THICK whipped cream, but we should stop here for Irish coffee. You don’t want stiff peaks—it needs to be creamy enough to still pour it, yet float on the surface.
I know…it’s a delicate dance but totally worth it for this luxurious after-dinner bevi.
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San Francisco inspired Irish coffee made with coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and easy, frothy homemade whipped cream.
- 4 1/2 ounces medium roast hot coffee
- 1 ounce Irish whiskey (Jameson’s or Tullamore D.E.W.)
- 1–2 teaspoons sugar (2 sugar cubes)
- 1 cup heavy or whipping cream (serves about 4 with 2–3 ounces per coffee)
- Add heavy/whipping cream to a medium-sized mason jar or sealed container. Shake for about 45 seconds and check consistency. You want it slightly thickened but still slowly pourable. If it gets too thick, thin out with a little extra cream and stir.
- Combine coffee, sugar, and Irish whiskey in a glass coffee mug. Stir until sugar dissolves.
- Top with a collar float of lightly whipped cream by gently pouring over a spoon at the coffee’s surface. Serve immediately.
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