I came to alcohol a bit late. While I recall my mom sipping white wine, clad in skintight Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and listening to the Eagles circa 1981–1982, she eschewed the stuff completely shortly thereafter and has ever since. The diligent, studious type, I mostly steered away from alcohol until my early 20s. But a fateful encounter one December with a batch of homemade Irish cream proved to be a game changer, and I’ve been enjoying the art of imbibing ever since.
When visiting the home of a former paramour for the holidays, some friends of his parents dropped by. They brought a bottle containing a creamy, mocha-tinged substance, which was almost immediately divvied up and poured over rocks glasses filled with ice. What these generous family friends had brought was their much-loved, seriously delicious and highly covetable homemade Irish cream. I was instantly smitten, and have been ever since.
For today’s Small Measures, I’m sharing my take on that tempting libation sampled so many winters past. It’s very easy to make (start to finish, the preparation is less than 30 minutes); can be whipped up with easy-to-come-by ingredients; and contains none of the artificial flavorings, coloring agents or preservatives used in commercially prepared Irish creams. Best of all, it’ll make anyone you choose to give it to very, very happy. Irish eyes are smiling, friends, when they’re knocking back a glass of this! — Ashley English
See the recipe for Homemade Irish Cream after the jump . . .
My recipe varies a bit from other Irish creams. Actually, it varies a lot. Instead of blitzing everything in a blender as is the norm, I like to warm my cream slowly over low heat, resulting in a beverage that remains thicker longer than its whizzed kin. For the liquor, I use Bushmills, but any quality Irish whiskey does the job. As a head’s up, please know that this is an alcohol-forward drink, which helps it retain its flavor when added to other beverages, like coffee. That said, if the drink is too stiff for your liking, feel free to reduce the amount of alcohol called for.
Irish Cream Liquor
Makes 4 cups
- 1 cup strong coffee
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon dark cocoa
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 14-ounce can organic, sweetened condensed milk*
- 2 cups Irish whiskey (I used Bushmills)
*The sweetened condensed milk I use includes organic milk and sugar and nothing else. It’s a time saver, to be sure. If you’d rather make your own, by all means, feel free. Just know that you’ll need to allocate several hours for reducing the milk before you’re able to proceed with the rest of the recipe below.
1. Bring the coffee to a gentle simmer in a medium-size saucepan.
2. Add the cream, cocoa, sugar, honey and extracts, and whisk thoroughly.
3. Simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat; whisk in the sweetened condensed milk.
5. Transfer the mixture to a heat-safe glass, ceramic or metal bowl, and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
6. Whisk in the whiskey until completely blended.
7. At this point, you can either allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and then serve or transfer it to a lidded container and store it in the refrigerator.
8. Serve over ice.
What about you? Have any homemade liquors you whip up come holiday time or cocktail hour, regardless of the season? I’d love hear about them. Otherwise, the skies are darkening, 5 o’clock is nearing, the wood stove is blazing and I do believe it’s time for a glass of this good stuff. Cheers!
Photos and styling by Jen Altman