Friday Cocktails: Homemade Irish Cream

By Melissa LaMothe

Published on March 14, 2014

The longest I've ever spent on Irish soil was an hour in an Athens-bound plane as it refueled at the Shannon International Airport, but the view from my tiny window was ethereal. The clouds were parting from a recent downpour, casting beams of sunlight among the vibrant green grass for as far as I could see. In the distance, little stone houses peppered the landscape, and I could just make out herds of cattle peacefully roaming open fields. During this brief pit stop, the crew played some upbeat Celtic music in the background as a soothing humidity from outside filled the cabin. The air had a delicious sweet scent of fresh cut grass and rain, begging me to stay just a while longer. My mood instantly lifted, and I felt almost like I was in a commercial for Ireland—the only thing missing from the scene was a glass of Irish cream on the rocks.

Introduced in 1974, Irish cream was the brainchild of an Irish distillery now marketed under the name “R&A Bailey & Co.” A silky liqueur made of Irish whiskey and cream, it’s known for its smooth flavor with accents of chocolate, almonds, and caramel. And as I discovered recently when preparing an Irish Cream frosting for a cake, it's surprisingly easy to recreate the drink at home by blending a combination of cream, coffee, vanilla, and Irish whiskey—in fact, it’s much tastier than the store-bought version. You can add your homemade Irish cream to coffee or use a touch for flavor when making desserts like brownies, but my favorite way to enjoy it is perhaps the most simple: in a glass over ice. And though I've yet to set foot in Ireland, whenever the rich, velvety spirit enrobes my tastebuds, I'm reminded of exactly why I can't wait to go.

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