The Boozy Difference Between Kentucky And Irish Coffee

Homemade Irish coffee with whipped cream
Homemade Irish coffee with whipped cream - Ekaterina Molchanova/Getty Images

Irish coffee (not to be confused with Gaelic coffee, which uses Scotch) is a caffeinated boozy sipper with a mellow, rounded body. It's cozy with a kick, the perfect energizing start to a weekend brunch or a warming pick-me-up to power through a busy evening -- and there's a Southern variation that bourbon lovers should know. Allow us to introduce Kentucky coffee.

Irish coffee is a hot drip coffee base loaded with Irish whiskey, sugar, and cream. Whereas Irish coffees are made with whiskey, Kentucky coffee uses bourbon. It's a single swap, but makes for a wildly different cocktail in a butterfly effect of ways. Bourbon totes a flavor profile with vanilla, oak, caramel, and char that naturally complements the tasting notes in roasted drip coffee. For optimal pairing, brew your Kentucky coffee using Brazil- or Columbia-origin coffee beans with their characteristic chocolate, caramel, and nutty notes. Or, use a strongly brewed dark roast coffee, which can be tracked down in any grocery store.

Irish coffee is sweetened with a few teaspoons of granulated sugar and brown sugar, and these sugars are also the right tools for adding accessibility and depth to Kentucky coffee. If you're in it for the bold coffee flavor, you could try using the coffee-infused Kentucky whiskey by Kentucky Coffee. Or, amp up the bourbon flavor and make your Kentucky coffee using the Kentucky bourbon-infused coffee beans by Oak & Bond Coffee Co., which are single-origin Brazil beans aged in a Kentucky bourbon barrel.

Read more: The 27 Best Bourbon Brands, Ranked

Making Your Kentucky Coffee Stand Out

Bartender serving a Kentucky coffee
Bartender serving a Kentucky coffee - MarianVejcik/Getty Images

Rather than the sweet Irish cream added to Irish coffees, some bartenders sweeten their Kentucky coffees by adding a dash of honey liqueur. Cinnamon liqueur can also lend a delicious flavorful touch here. Six ounces of coffee to one ounce of bourbon is a good jumping-off point, but spiked coffee is delicious pretty much any way you shake it out. When making Irish coffee, no more than four ounces of coffee is generally the golden rule. But, Irish coffees also include cream, a softening ingredient that's absent from Kentucky coffee.

If you're adding honey liqueur to your Kentucky coffee, start with ½ ounce and adjust to taste from there. For an extra toasty touch, pre-warm the mug by filling it with boiling water and allowing it to sit for a few minutes before assembling your spiked coffee drink. Either way, Irish coffee and Kentucky coffee both clock in at a tame 9% ABV. Plus, it all gets assembled right in the glass, no fancy techniques or shakers necessary.

Leave it robust and plain or top it with a swirl of whipped cream to soften the drink's profile. Kentucky coffee is best topped with a float of freshly whipped cream, only agitated until it's lightly whipped, not stiff enough to hold peaks. Thirsty for another variation on this coffee cocktail classic? Try combining your next Irish or Kentucky coffee with an Italian affogato for a when-worlds-collide grown-up dessert for the ages.

Read the original article on Tasting Table