Irish cream is the perfect liqueur for those warm, cosy Winter evenings. Delicious on its own and in cocktails, Irish cream is a very versatile drink. If you’re not quite sure what Irish cream is, or how best to enjoy it, we’ve got you covered!
Let us answer the top Irish cream frequently asked questions and offer some of our recipe suggestions…
What is Irish cream?
As the name suggests, Irish cream is a cream and Irish whiskey liqueur. These are the two fundamental components to the whiskey-based liqueur. Irish cream is not a type of whiskey, but rather a whiskey-based liqueur. Other flavourings are often added, such as coffee, vanilla and chocolate. However, flavours and alcohol strength varies from brand to brand.
There are many different brands of Irish cream such as; Carolan’s, Kerrygold, Molly’s, O’Darby and St.Brendan’s. However, Baileys is of course the most famous and popular on the market.
Baileys was the first Irish cream to appear, gracing the world in 1973. Many argue that its richness and warm notes of honey and vanilla are unrivaled by any other cream liqueur available. While the exact recipe is a well-kept secret, we do know that Baileys opts for cocoa extract, sugar and herbs as the main other ingredients alongside the whiskey and cream.
Since its invention 45 years ago, it's estimated that a staggering 1,250,000,000 bottles of Baileys have been sold. If all have been drunk, that means that roughly 12 billion glasses of the delicious liqueur have been enjoyed the world over.
Just like with other Irish creams, the best way to drink Baileys is straight and over ice. Baileys has such a well-balanced liqueur, that drinking it simply, is considered the ideal way to drink it.
Irish cream FAQ’s
Q: Can I get drunk on Irish cream?
Yes. This is an understandable uncertainty - Irish cream somehow manages to taste stronger than it is while also being so delicious and easy to drink that you almost forget it contains any alcohol altogether. It it does, however, contain whisky so the answer is yes, you can get drunk from drinking Irish cream.
Q: How much alcohol is in it?
Irish creams are between 15% and 20% in alcohol content, depending on the brand. The alcohol content of Baileys is 17%.
Q: How do I store it?
Unlike most other liqueurs, Irish cream has a high dairy and sugar content so you have to be careful about how you store the bottle before and especially after it’s been opened to avoid it going off. The alcohol in the liqueur does act as a natural preservative, so refrigerating the bottle is a good way to keep it fresh but not a necessity. Do make sure to reseal the bottle tightly and keep your Irish cream out of warm locations and don’t expose it to any kind of heat.
Q: How long is Irish cream good for?
In terms of shelf life, once a bottle has been opened, Irish cream is good for up to two years, however the quality will decline, so aiming for a benchmark of six months to one year is recommended. If you notice any kind of change in the smell, consistency, colour or taste, err on the side of caution and throw the bottle away.
Q: How many calories are in it?
According to Weight Loss Resources, one serving of Baileys (37ml) contains 130 calories, 7.4 grams of carbohydrate and 5.8 grams of fat.
Q: How much does a bottle cost?
The price of a bottle of Irish cream varies from retailer to retailer. A 70cl bottle of Baileys Original Irish cream costs between £12-£15. Other brands are slightly cheaper. Molly’s and Carolan’s Irish creams, for example, will only set you back about £9, but they might be less readily available than Baileys, which you can be pretty sure will be sold in every supermarket across the UK.
Some retailers will also often have their own brand version of Irish cream if you’re looking to tighten the purse strings; Tesco’s own Irish cream is only £7 for 70cl, and Sainsbury’s version is even less, at £6.75.
Q: Can I make my own?
You can make your own Irish cream at home, but it’s not quite as easy as just mixing cream and Irish whiskey!
The basics you’ll need are 1⅔ cups of your favourite Irish whiskey, 1 cup of cream, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk. For the flavouring, you’re free to change the quantities to adapt your homemade creation to your personal tastes, but here’s a rough idea of how you could flavour your Irish cream: 3 tablespoons of chocolate syrup, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of instant coffee. Blend all the ingredients together until smooth, and remember to store it in a tightly sealed bottle!
Irish Cream Cocktails & Drinks
Irish cream liqueur is a wonderfully versatile drink. It’s so rich and full of flavour. One of the best ways to drink Irish cream is straight or over ice. This means you savour the taste of the liqueur. It’s also great as an ingredient in shots, cocktails and warm drinks like coffee and hot chocolate. Here are a few of our favourite Irish cream recipes!
Interested in learning more about cocktails? Take a look at our 'what is a cocktail' page here.
Irish Cream Coffee
This recipe is so simple and a really fun way to add a touch of creamy alcoholic sweetness to your coffee. The recipe essentially just consists of using Irish cream instead of milk and sugar! Leave it to cool and then add to a glass of ice for an iced Irish cream coffee.
Irish Cream Hot Chocolate
This warm, sweet comfort drink is perfect for a cosy night in - think fluffy slippers by the fire. Pour your Irish cream into a tall glass, then make your hot chocolate in a separate mug. Pour the hot chocolate into the Irish cream glass when finished. Top with whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles and marshmallows to give yourself an extra sweet treat!
Using Irish cream liqueur instead of normal cream, the Mudslide shares a lot of the same ingredients as a classic White Russian. Simply blend 30ml of Irish cream, 30ml of vodka and 30ml of coffee liqueur like Kahlua and 30ml of milk or cream until smooth and serve over ice for a cocktail with a kick.
Irish Cream Chocolatini
This is the perfect cocktail for anyone with a sweet tooth who wants to combine pudding time and cocktail hour. Pour 75ml of Irish cream liqueur, 25 ml of vodka and a splash of chocolate syrup into a shaker, along with some ice cubes. Shake until smooth and creamy, serve in a cocktail glass and garnish with chocolate drops, shavings or powder, et voila!
With only two ingredients, this cocktail is incredibly quick and easy to create. Simply mix 30ml of Irish cream liqueur and 30ml of hazelnut liqueur and pour over ice for a nutty and creamy treat.
As its name suggests, this sumptuous cocktail will definitely leave you feeling satisfied. There are many variations of this cocktail, from the Screaming Orgasm to a Chocolate and Orange Orgasm. To create this classic cocktail, pour 30ml of coffee liqueur, 30ml of amaretto liqueur and 30ml of Irish cream liqueur into a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain the drink into a glass of ice and enjoy!
Irish cream is a well known Christmas favourite, so if you are looking for some other easy Christmas cocktails, check out our blog.
Inspired to get into bartending? Take a look at our EBS Bartender Courses here.