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The Perfect Irish Coffee Recipe

Making the perfect Irish coffee isn’t as daunting as it looks, and quantities don’t have to be exact – just be prepared to make more than one as your guests will be back for more. You should focus on good prep, using great ingredients and getting your timings right; according to Sarah Simpson, owner of Blackbird bar and restaurant in Derry, Northern Ireland.

Makes 1


  • 50ml double or whipping cream, chilled
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 shot espresso
  • 1 glug (35–50ml) Irish whiskey

To garnish

  • Cocoa powder


  1. First, warm your glass or mug by filling it with boiled water. A heatproof latte glass works well, so you can see the layers of your creation.
  2. Next, whip the cream. You want it firm enough that it won’t sink, but not so stiff that it’ll create a barrier. Go for a pillowy, ‘just-set’ appearance. Put it to one side in a jug.
  3. Discard the water that’s been heating your glass and, while the glass is still hot, add a teaspoon of brown sugar along with a drop of freshly boiled water. Stir to dissolve.
  4. Make an espresso with the best-quality coffee you can find – for example, a good Nespresso shot – and add to the glass, topping with freshly boiled water so it’s half full.
  5. Next, add your whiskey (always choose Irish, such as Jameson), anything from 35ml to 50ml should do the trick. Top with boiling water to bring the glass to about two thirds full, if needed.
  6. Now comes the cream top: heat the back of a teaspoon with boiling water, then slowly pour the whipped cream over the back of the spoon onto the coffee mixture, until it fills your glass. The heated spoon is vital to help layer the cream and stop it from sinking.
  7. Top with a dusting of cocoa powder for a final flourish, and serve. Sláinte!

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