Story by Dave Eckert
I admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of Irish Cream-based cocktails. That is until a few weeks ago when my wife and I attended a cocktail class at North Kansas City’s Restless Spirits Distillery. In the class, we not only learned how to make our own Irish Cream, but we were able to taste some remarkable Irish Cream-centric cocktails. So, when publisher Renee Demott asked me to write an article on said cocktails for Sublime Sips, I was all in!
So, back to Restless Spirits I headed for a chat with Brand Ambassador, Jake Barnett. I asked Barnett for his thoughts on Irish Cream and the cocktails it helps create. I got an earful of tasty insight. “To me, winter cocktails are at their best when they evoke a sense of comfort, family, and tradition. The great ones are simple and easily replicated, and most importantly, enjoyed by everyone,” Barnett said, just starting to get revved up. “A proper Irish Cream is perfect for the holidays because it’s essentially a non-fussy cocktail in a bottle. It’s just whiskey, cream, and sweetener/flavoring (usually coffee/chocolate, sometimes orange, butterscotch, etc.). It can be drunk on its own or mixed, sipped after dinner, or thrown back in a shot. It’s impossible to drink without being put in an uplifted, festive mood.”
They make their own Irish Cream at Restless Spirits using Sons of Erin Irish Whiskey, which they serve in the tasting room. From first-hand experience, I’ll say this – it’s mighty tasty! Also, with Sons of Erin weighing in at 92 proof, higher than your typical 80 proof whiskeys, Restless Spirits’ Irish Cream is more whiskey-forward than most other versions. “The bourbon barrel finish we give the whiskey lends it caramel and vanilla notes that complement the cream nicely. John Burdick, Director of On-Premise Sales, and I have tinkered with a variety of versions and settled on a simple base recipe that has been quite popular,” Barnett shared.
You can find this recipe below along with two of Barnett’s Irish Cream cocktail creations. And, if you just want to try the Irish Cream and maybe a cocktail or two, head down to Restless Spirits in NKC, right next to Chicken and Pickle. Barnett will be more than happy to oblige.
No doubt about it, Irish Cream and Irish Cream-style cocktails are on the rise. You can tell that just by looking at the selection of Irish Creams on the retail shelves. For more about that, I had a visit with self-proclaimed “Wine Guy,” Ross Jackson of Mike’s Wines and Spirits. “From my experience, the options for Irish Cream have grown over the last few years, as more distributors bring in small batch products, blended with every base spirit you could ever imagine, to compete with the growing market,” Jackson stated.
But, locally, Jackson says there’s only one Irish Cream that matters, Five Farms Irish Cream, which Holliday Distillery in Weston, MO began importing from County Cork, Ireland in 2017. “Five Farms completely changed the game. Named for the five family farms from which they source their milk, it was the first imported Irish Cream to be made with fresh product and pure Irish Whisky,” Jackson said. Jackson says he can distinctly remember the first time he tasted Five Farms Irish Cream. “I was the beverage director at Corvino Supper Club, and when I tried it with our bartenders we looked at each other like ‘you have to be kidding me.’ We couldn’t believe how complex and superior it was to everything else on the market!” Jackson exclaimed
Not only does Jackson love Five Farms Irish Cream, he loves Irish Cream cocktails. “Irish Cream cocktails on the rocks give you a cold, refreshing cocktail that feels like winter,” Jackson mused. Jackson also says he drinks a lot of coffee, and coffee and Irish Cream is a natural pairing. “At our Mike’s Wine & Spirits Brookside location, we serve Cuento Cold Brew Coffee on tap. It’s perfect for coffee cocktails, hot or cold. I love to mix equal parts cold brew and Five Farms Irish Cream over the rocks. You can add an extra splash of Irish Whiskey (I prefer Powers) if you’d like. A little fresh cinnamon shaved over it to garnish really steps it up,” Jackson concluded.
Wow! I don’t know about you, but I’m thirsty for a tasty Irish Cream Cocktail. Cheers!
Sons of Erin Irish Cream
- 1 cup high-quality half-and-half
- 1 14 oz can condensed milk
- 1 3/4 cups Sons of Erin Irish whiskey
- 2 tsp instant espresso powder
- 1 oz chocolate syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp butterscotch extract
- 1 tsp orange extract
This makes about a liter or it’s easy to scale up or down. You can throw it in any sealable container, shake it and let it chill in the fridge, and it’s ready to go. You can buy a set of mini mason jars (4 to 8oz range), whip up a batch or two of this in fifteen minutes.
- 2oz Irish Cream
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
- 2 scoops chocolate ice cream
- 2oz Guinness
Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with whipped cream and a peanut butter cup.
- 1oz Irish Cream
- 1oz Italian Amaro (We like Amaro Montenegro)
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- Bittered Whip Cream*
- orange zest
Add Irish cream, Amaro, sugar, and sugar to Irish Coffee glass or stemmed mug and top with coffee. Slowly pour whipped cream over spoon to layer atop coffee. Grate orange zest on top to garnish.
*Bittered Whip Cream: Add 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters and 1 teaspoon of sugar to 3oz of heavy cream in a mason jar. Shake until cream lightly sticks to the back of spoon.