Do you pour a little Irish cream in your weekend coffee? Is it a staple in your bar for creamy cocktails and fun party shots? You are not alone if a bottle of Bailey's or Carolan's regularly comes home with you because Irish cream is one of the most popular liqueurs around.
What is Irish Cream?
Irish cream is a popular liqueur that is often served on its own over ice, mixed into cocktails, or featured in fun shooters for parties.
It is made of Irish whiskey, cream, chocolate, and sugar and can also include other flavoring ingredients such as coffee and vanilla.
Tip: It is actually quite easy to make your own Irish cream and it is a popular homemade gift for the holidays.
Irish creams range from pale brown to beige in color and between 15 and 20% alcohol by volume (30-40 proof). It is also a very affordable liqueur and you can often pick up a good bottle for less than $15.
As with any cream liqueur, Irish cream should be stored carefully. It is not a super-sensitive liqueur in that it needs to be refrigerated, but the cream and sugars can cause it to go bad.
- Finish an opened bottle within a year.
- Do not expose open or unopened bottles to extreme heat or store it in a very warm location.
- Toss the bottle if you notice any changes in the liqueur.
There are also Irish cream flavored syrups available. These are non-alcoholic and can be used in coffee, cooking, mocktails, and for making a non-alcoholic, homemade Irish cream.
Irish Cream Brands: Bailey's and Beyond
For the most part, different brands of Irish cream are very similar to one another. Many drinkers would not be able to tell Bailey's from St. Brendan's in a blind taste test, so you really cannot go wrong when choosing an Irish cream liqueur.
Bailey's is, without a doubt, the most popular brand of Irish cream, but if you look beyond that bottle, you will find some excellent options.
Remember, just because it's the best-known doesn't mean it's necessarily the best. This is true for all distilled spirits and, quite frankly, great marketing has more to do with popularity than anything.
Bailey's is a good Irish cream, don't get me wrong. However, you might want to check out these brands as well. They are just a sampling of the many fine Irish creams available and those that I can personally recommend. Yet, I also encourage you to simply pick up an unknown brand and try it. You will not know what else is out there unless you do.
- St. Brendan's
If you need or want to find a substitute for Irish cream, your best bet is RumChata Cream Liqueur.
Must-Have Irish Cream Drinks
Irish cream makes an appearance in countless cocktail recipes. It's often the go-to liqueur for creamy drinks and it's readily available so it is a natural choice for any recipe that calls for a 'cream liqueur.'
Among those many drinks, a few stand out from the crowd. These are the essential cocktails that any Irish cream fan needs to know.
- Mudslide - Quite simply vodka mixed with coffee and Irish cream liqueurs. This is a delicious low ball that's perfect for happy hour.
- Nutty Irishman - This is such a popular drink that people have adapted it in many ways. From the basic Irish cream and Frangelico mix to those with a little extra whiskey and even a coffee cocktail, there's a Nutty Irishman for everyone.
- Orgasm - Super creamy and a pure delight, this is also a can't miss cocktail. It's a slow sipper served on the rocks and combines Irish cream with amaretto and coffee liqueurs.
Essential Party Shots With Irish Cream
Irish cream also makes an appearance in many shooter recipes. It's often the ingredient that makes these party drinks taste just a little too good, so take it easy when drinking these.
Among the numerous Irish cream shooters, a few are what we consider essential. They're the recipes that bartenders and drinkers alike really need to know.
- B-52 - Possibly the best-known layered shot, the B-52 is a delight to down. It begins with Kahlua, then Baileys, and is topped with Grand Marnier.
- Buttery Nipple - It's simple, fun, and goes down a little too quickly. This popular layered shot is a combination of Irish cream and butterscotch schnapps.
- Girl Scout Cookie - How many ways can you create a tasty cookie shot? There are quite a few and most include Irish cream with coffee and peppermint liqueurs.
- Irish Car Bomb - A purely Irish drink, this shot includes a shot glass filled with Irish cream and whiskey that is dropped into a pint of Guinness.
- Oatmeal Cookie - It really does taste like its namesake and, again, it's delicious. This time you will mix Irish cream with butterscotch and cinnamon schnapps and toss in a little Jagermeister for good measure.
Tasty Irish Cream Cocktails
It really is no joke when we say that Irish cream creates some delicious cocktails. As you explore these recipes, you will discover this for yourself. Enjoy these drinks for dessert or anytime you get a sweet tooth craving.
- Caramel Irish Coffee - The original Irish Coffee recipe does not include Irish cream, but this modern adaptation does. It also tosses some butterscotch schnapps into the mix to create a drinker's delight.
- Chocolatini - Chocolate martinis are very hard to resist, especially those recipes that have a creamy profile. This delicious cocktail pairs Irish cream with vanilla vodka and a luscious chocolate liqueur.
- Ghost-tini - Autumn and Halloween are the perfect excuses to whip up this yummy cocktail that pairs a flavored Irish cream with vanilla vodka and pumpkin liqueur.
Using Irish Cream for Cool Visual Effects
Your mother always told you not to play with your food, but she didn't say anything about your Irish cream. This is a liqueur that can be used to create some neat tricks in the glass (or your mouth) and it's fun to play around with.
- Cement Mixer - This is a retro shot that has (thankfully) lost much of its glory. It does answer a question, though: Will Irish cream curdle? When it meets the acids of citrus it will. The point of the Cement Mixer is to allow the cream liqueur and lime juice to create a thick slurry in your mouth and to drink it before it gets too thick and disgusting. Try it if you like.
- Ghostbuster - An apparition comes to life in this Halloween martini thanks to a dollop of Irish cream. The ghostly figure floats among the neon green cocktail and it's quite the sight that will add a little spook to your party.
- Irish Flag - Irish cream is noted most for its ability to be layered with other ingredients. You will find it many shooter recipes like the Irish Flag. Because of its mid-range density (this varies slightly by brand), it is often perfect for floating in the middle layer of the drink.