The time for hot cocktails is upon us. And while the cure-all Hot Toddy and the grown-up version of the Pumpkin Spiced Latte are both fine winter warmers, we’re most excited about a drink with a little more get up and go: the Irish Coffee.
The Irish Coffee formula is fairly standard: Irish whiskey, coffee, sweetener and cream. Though white sugar can be swapped for brown sugar and the cream can be either Reddi-Wip or freshly whipped cream, the best way to customize your Irish Coffee is with the most important ingredient of all—the whiskey.
Here, the five best Irish whiskeys for your Irish Coffee, whether you like it spiced, dry, fruity or extra-boozy.
If you’re the type to take shots (plain or pickle-back), you’re probably familiar with Jameson. The super-popular Irish whiskey is the biggest selling brand in its category in the United States, so it’s not surprising that it’s the go-to whiskey for the Emerald Isle’s signature cocktail. It lends a subtle spiced sweetness to an Irish Coffee.
When we say spicier, we’re not referring to a whiskey that scores higher on the Scoville scale. Instead, we’re talking about extra layers of baking spice notes. Spiking your Irish Coffee with this Bushmills bottling, which is made with a higher-than-usual concentration of malt whiskey and aged in sherry casks, makes for a holiday-perfect version of the cocktail. Its notes of dried fruits and spices taste like a chilly winter day.
Aged in used bourbon barrels for 12 years and distilled by pot still, this Irish whiskey fills an Irish Coffee with round vanilla notes and plenty of spice and fruit flavors. Hand whip some cream with a little vanilla extract for the topping to play up the whiskey’s flavor.
For a Fruity Irish Coffee: Green Spot
For those that like their Irish Coffees on the lighter side, this single pot still distilled whiskey is tops. It’s aged in both ex-bourbon barrels and sherry casks, giving it an oaky and fruity flavor that plays nicely with coffee.
If spice and oak just aren’t your thing, opt for Teeling Small Batch. Aged in ex-rum barrels, the ultra-smooth whiskey is wonderfully round. Its rum-like notes of vanilla and fruit pair beautifully with dark, rich coffee.