We feel almost an obligation as San Francisco girls (at heart!) to get the party started a little early with an Irish Coffee recipe for St. Patrick’s Day to make the most of the celebration. San Francisco adopted the Irish coffee in 1952 (60 years in November) and it’s been our city’s special drink ever since.

Irish Coffee

  • 6 ounces freshly brewed coffee
  • 1 shot Irish whiskey, (Bushmill’s or your favorite)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
  • Whipped cream to garnish, shaped in a *quenelle

Pour coffee, and whiskey in a warmed glass mug.  Stir in sugar to taste.  Top off with whipped cream.

A couple of tips and terms:

Warm your glasses.  I’m a fanatic about this… I warm all cups for coffee and tea.  It’s a tiny extra step, but it makes a big difference in keeping your drink warm longer.

Use a medium roast coffee bean.  As much as I like really strong bold beans if the coffee is too strong it will overpower the booze.

Brew the coffee and stir in sugar and whiskey.  This step is a to taste step… if you like it sweeter, if you like more booze, if you like it less sweet… who cares what the recipes says adjust it so it tastes good to you.

Top off with whipped cream.  Slightly beaten cream may be traditional, but a lightly sweetened whipped cream is our preference.  For a cup of heavy cream no more than 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar.  The whipped cream makes the perfect cool layer to sip the hot coffee-whiskey concoction through, without mixing.  Love the contrast.

*What the heck is a quenelle?  (kuh-nell)  A culinary term for small, egg shaped dumplings traditionally made from ground seafood, chicken, or meat and poached in a broth.  Today, chefs like to use this term to describe anything soft that can be scooped this oval shape such as whipped cream, sorbet, ice cream, ganache, even mashed potatoes. We love any excuse to make a quenelle (Chef Terri is one of the best quenelle makers around!) but a good old-fashioned dollop works just as well.



  1. Thanks for this grand recipe! While I kind of knew how to make Irish Coffee, your ‘tips/terms’ will make them taste extra Irish! Hopefully don’t get too fluthered on these! Can we look forward to a quenelle video soon???

    • Hi Lisa, Thanks so much for your great comments! Here it is… quenelle video and a little whipped cream are up. It’s 10:20, is it time for a “corrected coffee” yet? : D

  2. Great idea! Not only is it St Patricks day but it is also England vs Ireland in the Rugby Union Six Nations. What better way to finish off a cold wet day at Twickenham than to wind down with an Irish coffee! Wish I was there.

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