On a cold winter's day I was in a Irish-themed pub/restaurant and ordered an Irish Coffee. Some time later (could have been half an hour or longer), the waitress comes with all the stuff other people at the table ordered but she was terribly sorry to tell me that me that the person possessing the abilities to create this particular mix drink was currently not here and she asked whether I wouldn't want a different hot drink instead. Now, from my recollection the only other hot (alcoholic) drink on the menu would have been Baileys Coffee and I thought that surely the same would apply here and I opted for something cold instead, she asked me then explicitly whether I wouldn't want another hot drink but I reiterated my new choice.

Now in hindsight I can't stop thinking about whether I was right in my assumption that if Irish Coffee was not possible Baileys Coffee wouldn't be either. That's assuming it's the same only with Baileys instead of good whiskey (which would explain why latter was also cheaper). The thoughts even made me read up a bit on creating either drink and indeed in Irish Coffee recipes in particular it was often mentioned that getting the cream to float can be a tad tricky but I didn't get any clear answer.

So therefore I'm asking here:
Is Irish Coffee significantly harder to get right compared to Baileys Coffee?

  • 1
    Adding a bounty doesn't change the point that Stephie made... without knowing how this specific pub prepares the drinks, there's no way to know how different they are. Four different bars can offer the same four drinks and they could all have different twists... be slightly dissimilar... Heck, in the 90s I went to NYC and asked for a Dr. Pepper and the waiter thought it was some sort of suicide drink... and it's a major brand of soda!
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 17:12

3 Answers 3


Some preparations for Irish coffee demand that the whiskey and sugar be caramelized together by heating them in a heat-proof glass over a burner and then topped with hot coffee and thick liquid cream. It takes some experience to get this heating step right. (Youtube video here)

Baileys coffee is simply coffee with added Baileys liquour (cream optional), like many other [coffee and alcohol] combinations.

Of course there are lots of other sources where "Irish coffee" is simply whiskey + sugar + coffee + (even whipped) cream, probably the "original" preparation served to warm up travellers, so without knowing what standards your pub/restaurant follows, it's nearly impossible to say whether you could have ordered Baileys coffee.

  • Being an Irish-themed pub in a better area I would hope that they would be serving the real stuff.
    – phk
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 11:10
  • 3
    The waitress coming to your table telling you The Master is not in sounds very hopeful to me. As far as I can tell (I don't order the stuff, I just taste from people that order (and that I know ;))), the order usually is fulfilled within 5 minutes. If they're lucky, the whipped cream is actually freshly made. If they're really lucky, it contains a decent amount of whiskey. And if they're really, REALLY lucky, it contains decent whiskey. Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 18:31

A "Bailey's Coffee" was likely simply a cup of coffee with Bailey's added, and maybea dollop of cream on top. Anyone with legal ability to make and serve a drink would be able to get you that.

An Irish coffee in it's truest form would be perhaps more work but is not really a different drink. Instead of using a pre-mixed whiskey liquor, you basically make it yourself by adding sugar and Irish whiskey to the coffee and adding a dollop of cream on top to drink the coffee through. Again with Irish coffee, anyone with legal ability to make and serve a drink would be able to get you that.

Perhaps they didn't have anyone working that morning who would be able to mix alcoholic beverages legally (often you need a license to do so). If this were the case, Bailey's coffee would also be off limits. However, Bailey's coffee is a bit less work so perhaps they did have someone who could make it for you that day.




  • It was in the afternoon and from what I can see there are no time restrictions on mixing alcoholic drinks in that country. It's also not it's own regulated trade, it simply falls under the category catering.
    – phk
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 11:08

wow, what a question. Firstly, perhaps step away from the Bailey's idea, there are many type of coffee out there with 'add-ons', think of Cointreau for example. However, many of these other liqueurs are not cream based. Does that mean that the cream in Bailey's makes a difference... I do not think so. As stated above and copied from the usual website references on this site - there are a plethora of recipes out there. So, to your question: 'Is Irish Coffee significantly harder to get right compared to Baileys Coffee?'. No, whether you infuse your coffee with per-caremalized sugar, white, brown or any other type of sugar, use the back of spoon method, squirty cream or properly whipped cream you should be able to get the result that you are looking for. It really isn't rocket science, however, and here is the caveat, when trying all the methods and recipes mentioned - I should be present - for health and safety reasons of course!

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