Brown Sugar Irish Coffee

DrinkSt. Patrick's DayIrishCocktail

Brown Sugar Irish Coffee. A simple and easy way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day - or any day! Made with coffee, Irish whiskey, brown sugar syrup, and whipped cream.

Photography Credit: Garrett McCord

Irish coffee is an exercise in simplicity. Too much fuss and it loses its character.

You want a strong punch of coffee, a lingering warmth from the Irish whiskey, a touch of sweetness, and some cream to bring it all together.

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Irish Coffee in small mason jar on granite tableWhy Brown Sugar?

Keeping this desire for simplicity in mind, one change that I’ve made to make my Irish coffee special is to use brown sugar in place of white. Its musky, molasses-y flavor bolsters the coffee and lends the whiskey a bit more heft.

Simple to make, but the result is anything but.

Two Glasses of Irish Coffee topped with whipped cream

Resist the temptation to add coffee liqueurs such as Irish cream since, ultimately, that’s all you will taste.

Pick the Liquor for Your Palate

However, one substitution that I do condone is swapping out the Irish whiskey for another liquor. If dark rum or perhaps Kentucky bourbon is more your game then, by all means, go right ahead. I’ve even seen a bartender friend of mine use barrel-aged aquavit, though that may require a Scandinavian heritage to appreciate it.

The recipe will make you plenty of both the brown sugar syrup and cream. The syrup can be stored in the fridge for a month. It’s fantastic with tea, plain coffee, or used in cocktails. The leftover cream can be used to top any dessert or served for brunch with pancakes or waffles.

Brown Sugar Irish Coffee Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Chilling time time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 1 drink

This recipe makes enough brown sugar syrup and whipped cream for several cocktails. Store the extra in the fridge until using.


  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces freshly brewed hot coffee
  • 1 ounce Irish whiskey


1 Make the brown sugar syrup. Place the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the brown sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

2 Make the whipped cream. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or using a hand-held whisk, whisk the cream with 1/4 cup of the cooled brown sugar syrup until it hits the ribbon stage. This is when you lift your whisk and a bit of the thickened cream falls back in a ribbon, keeping its shape for a second or two before dissolving on the surface.

Brown Sugar Irish Coffee

3 Make your cocktail. Place the coffee and whiskey in an Irish coffee glass, coffee mug, or whathaveyou along with 1/2 ounce of the brown sugar syrup. (Use more or less of any of these ingredients according to your taste.) Top with plenty of the whipped cream and serve.

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Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a professional writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications such as Gourmet Live, Saveur, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, and NPR. Past clients also include numerous food companies, wineries, and distilleries. Garrett writes about cocktails on his website, Coupe de Grace.

More from Garrett

8 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Malika A. Black

    I’m a coffee Addict!
    I love the whipped cream in your Irish Coffee. Makes it even more appealing! Thanks

  2. Mike

    Whether making it at home or ordering it at a bar, I always omit the sugar–the heavy cream is enough sweetener.

  3. Rachael @ Rachael's Foodie Life

    Wow this is my kind of cocktail! I am just a little coffee obsessed and this sounds divine!

  4. Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

    As a big coffee enthusiast I must write “oh yes yes yes!”

  5. glenn

    Is this a cold coffee ?

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Irish Coffee recipe in decorative glass on tableBrown Sugar Irish Coffee