Suzi's Blog

Whipped Cream and Irish Coffee

This is a truth, a fact, and not one of my modest exaggerations. Whipped cream can be an essential ingredient of a recipe, absolutely required by the laws of physics and chemistry.

This post is clearly going to be different. It’s serious and scientific.

Now, let’s just take a sideways step here. I know it’s hot during the days now — the 80’s here in New York. But, at night the temperature still drops into the low 50’s at our Catskills house. Even in the desert areas, the nighttime temperature can drop by 40⁰ or more. I can remember a summer in the Mojave Desert when it was 135⁰ at 1PM and down to 80⁰ by 11PM. I’d go for a walk and have to wear a jacket.

Which means, that still on many nights you might want an Irish Coffee. Below, I’ve got the classic recipe for Irish Coffee and an interesting option, Mayan Coffee, using agave nectar and tequila.

Both recipes call for topping the beverage with whipped cream. And that’s where the science comes into play. Your coffee may be hot. Well, it’s sure to be hot. But there is a critical temperature you have to be aware of: at 173⁰ many spirits, like whiskey or tequila, begin to boil. The alcohol will begin to evaporate and you’ll lose flavor.

Hence the whipped cream. Put immediately on top of the drink, it becomes a lid helping to keep alcohol vapors from escaping that hot liquid. The whipping cream is a physical requirement. That the whipping cream tastes so good is just a side benefit.


Classic Irish Coffee

Yield: 1 beverage


  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 3 ounces hot brewed coffee
  • 1 ½ ounces Irish whiskey
  • Dollop of whipped cream for garnish [sweetened or unsweetened]


In a warmed mug or heatproof glass, stir the sugar into the coffee until dissolved. Stir in the whiskey, then garnish the drink with whipped cream.



Mayan Coffee

Yield: 1 beverage


  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar
  • 3 ounces hot brewed coffee
  • 1 ½ ounces tequila
  • Dollop of whipped cream for garnish [sweetened or unsweetened]
  • Pinch of cinnamon for garnish


In a warmed mug or heatproof glass, stir the agave nectar into the coffee until incorporated. Stir in the whiskey, then garnish the drink with whipped cream and top off with the cinnamon.

Sources: Food and Wine Cocktails 2012


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One thought on “Whipped Cream and Irish Coffee

  1. Just a quick comment.
    After working in bars and having many arguments with people about Irish coffee (as well as being a scientist). I have a few corrections/suggestions

    In your picture the cream seems to be sinking, an Irish coffee is not an Irish coffee with sunken cream. I have seen many a coffee sent back due to sinking cream.

    Add sugar (1-2tbl spoon) to the coffee and whiskey. Adding sugar to liquids makes them denser and makes cream less likely to mix.

    Use the right cream. One major mistake people make is using the wrong cream. Never use whipping cream. Whipping cream contains around twice the fat content of pouring cream which makes it very dense and causes it to sink. Don’t use double cream either as it is very heavy. note: creams from different countries have different properties.

    The best method i have found is to use pouring cream. Put it in a glass bottle and shake it until it thickens slighly. you can tell when you have the correct consistency when the cream begins to stick significantly to the side of the glass bottle. This consistency is less dense and results in an increased surface tension meaning it is less likely to sink because it sticks to itself and to the glass

    DO NOT OVER WHIP. One of the gimmicks of an Irish coffee is its resemblance Guinness, as such a creamy textured head is required. An Irish coffee never contains whipped cream because the texture is just not right.

    5. Over all technique
    First heat your glass with hot water. Then pour out the water and add 1 shot (35.5ml) of Irish whiskey. Add brown sugar to the whiskey and mix. Then add the coffee leaving about half an inch to spare. Then add your thickened(not whipped) pouring cream. pour over the back of a warm spoon to avoid breaking the surface tension

    Hope this helps

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