Irish cream liqueur can be enjoyed on the rocks or in your coffee, and here at Delish, we've found out a bunch of creative ways to use it in your cooking, too. Anything is possible with this liqueur, truly. The story of Irish cream dates back to the 1970s, with the tried-and-true Baileys unsurprisingly being the first marketed Irish cream liqueur out there. The only reason this drink came to be was because there was a whole lot of extra alcohol from local Irish distilleries (shocker!), and a whole lot of extra cream from dairy factories. Put those two together with some additional flavors like cocoa and vanilla, and you have yourself a delightful Irish cream liqueur! Although it was created as a solution to a surplus, it's now a staple on bar carts and in liquor stores everywhere.
Irish cream liqueur can be used seasonally in drinks like Lucky Charms shots on St. Patrick's Day or Dirty Snowmen shakes in the winter, but we see no reason you can't enjoy it all year round if you want to! Here's everything you need to know when deciding which bottle to grab from the liquor store.
This probably doesn't come as a shock to anyone, but Baileys was the first Irish cream on the market, dating back to 1974. We'd be remiss not to put this classic first. The original formulation came from extra alcohol from a distillery, surplus cream from factories, and Nesquik—yup, the chocolate powder! It has a shelf life of two years from the day it was made no matter when you open it or how you store it. Baileys Irish cream has become so popular that the brand releases seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice and strawberries and cream.
Baileys Irish Cream is the most popular one on the market, and the brand made a light version with 40 percent less sugar and 40 percent less calories for the first time in 2021.
Saint Brendan's was one of the top-ranked cream liqueurs back in 2016, meaning it ranked fifth out of all cream liqueurs—not just those of the Irish variety. It's named after Saint Brendan, the patron saint of boatmen, mariners, and travelers, and is made in Northern Ireland.
Five Farms prides itself not only on quality (it was scored a 97 at Ultimate Spirits Challenge in 2018), but also on it's farm-to-table process. The cream used in this liqueur is sourced from five family-owned farms located in County Cork, Ireland. The bottle design is also a nod to the retro milk containers of the early 1900s.
Carolans Irish cream has a hint of natural honey flavor, but also comes in a salted caramel edition if you want that extra sweetness. The name Carolans is inspired by Turlough O'Carolan, a blind Celtic harper, composer, and singer from the seventeenth century.
This cream liqueur is infused with vanilla and cocoa beans, giving it a multi-dimensional flavor palette. Many online reviews say that Emmets is smooth to drink, while still having the taste of liquor for those that like to savor the spice of Irish whiskey.
The Whistler Irish cream is unique because it uses single-pot still Irish whiskey which has triple distilled, malted, and un-malted barley in its formulation. This gives it a hint of sweet and spice. The Whistler is produced in Ireland at Boann Distillery, and is made with help from the youngest Master Distiller in Ireland, Michael Walsh.
Ryan's Irish cream is one of the most consistently affordable bottles of Irish cream you can buy. It's made with imported whiskey and, like most Irish creams, the brand suggests you enjoy it on the rocks or in an after dinner drink.
Michael's is described as a more "fiery" whiskey taste compared to the other Irish creams, which makes it a good option for anyone that really wants to get the best flavors of all the ingredients. It offers a nutty aroma with subtle coconut, too, so the whiskey isn't too overpowering.
In 2014, Kerrygold Irish cream launched, and it's only available in the United States, the Dublin Airport, and a liquor store called O'Briens, located in the village of Douglas in Cork, Ireland.