Irish cream liqueur is a staple of after-dinner drinks that’s enjoyed year-round — from St. Patricks Day to the winter holidays. Baileys Irish Cream is the most famous, but there’s a lot more to this creamy spirit than meets the eye. Here’s everything you need to know about Irish Cream.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, Feast + West receives a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are our own. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
After-dinner drink recipes often contain an ingredient called Baileys, a creamy liqueur that’s a type of Irish cream.
This unique spirit is certainly worth trying — both on its own and mixed into drinks. It’s a staple of any festive season, from St. Patrick’s Day to Christmas.
If you’ve ever wondered, “What is Baileys?,” then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about Irish cream!
What is Irish cream?
Irish cream is a creamy alcoholic liqueur that is used in cocktails and baking. It is also sometimes referred to as simply “Baileys,” which is the name of the best-selling brand of Irish cream on the market.
With a base of heavy cream and aged Irish whiskey, Irish cream is thick, smooth and full of the flavors of chocolate, vanilla and coffee. Its appearance is opaque and creamy with a subtle brown color.
Irish cream can be sipped on its own (neat or over ice), mixed into coffee and cocktails, poured over ice cream or mixed into desserts.
Now you know the answer to, “What is Baileys?” but there’s a lot more to know! Let’s start with the history of this sweet spirit.
History of Irish cream
Invented by Gibley’s of Ireland, Baileys Irish Cream was invented in 1974.
In this 2017 article from The Irish Times, David Gluckman — one of the inventors of Baileys — detailed the process of inventing the creamy beverage with a team who was tasked with designing a product to be the next big international export.
Focused on Ireland’s reputation for dairy, they dreamt up a liqueur combining Irish whiskey with cream. Within a few years, Gluckman wrote, “it began to look like a winner.”
Now owned by Diageo, the liqueur is manufactured in Dublin, Ireland and Mallusk, Northern Ireland.
According to Baileys, approximately 200 million liters of Irish milk from family-owned farms are required for its production. (That’s apparently enough to make about 3.3 billion Baileys milkshakes!)
By the way, it’s not “Bailey’s Irish Cream” — there’s no apostrophe in Baileys!
Best Irish cream liqueurs
Though Baileys was the first of its kind (and is perhaps the most ubiquitous), it has lots of competitors vying to be the best Irish creams.
There are plenty of options when it comes to Irish cream liqueur brands, such as:
- Carolans Irish Cream
- Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur
- Saint Brendan’s Irish Cream Liqueur
- Ryan’s Irish Cream
- Emmets Irish Cream
- O’Darby Irish Cream
- Five Farms Irish Cream
- Kirkland Signature Irish Cream
You can also experiment with making your own homemade Irish cream with your favorite premium Irish whiskey.
Made with sweetened condensed milk, cream, coffee, cocoa, vanilla and Irish whiskey, it makes a wonderful sipper or you can give it as a gift.
Flavored Irish cream
In addition to regular Irish cream, the Baileys brand has delved into the world of flavored liqueurs and has several variations on the market.
You might find some of these types of Baileys with additional flavors on the shelves of your local liquor store:
- Salted Caramel
- Espresso Crème
- Strawberries & Cream
- Red Velvet
- Apple Pie
- Vanilla Cinnamon
- Chocolate Cherry
- Vanilla Mint Shake
There is also a light version, called “Deliciously Light,” that has 40% less calories and 40% less sugar than the original.
No Baileys? No problem. You have a few options:
Try another brand: Give another Irish cream brand a try, such as Carolans or Kerrygold.
Use another cream liqueur: Other cream liqueurs — such as Amarula, RumChata, white chocolate liqueur or Cape Velvet Cream — will work as a substitute.
Be creative: Another idea is to use a splash of coffee liqueur and cream to imitate a similar flavor.
Try dairy-free Baileys: If you need a dairy-free Irish cream, you’ll be glad to know that there is an option for you! Baileys Almande is the dairy-free version made with almond milk. You can also check out this vegan Irish cream you want to try making it yourself.
Use a non-alcoholic Baileys substitute: Make your own Irish cream syrup, which has all of the flavor of Irish cream without any cream or alcohol. It’s perfect for drinkers of black coffee, too.
What to mix with Baileys
Irish cream liqueur goes incredibly well with all kinds of flavors. Try mixing it with any of these flavors to come up with your own concoctions:
Try adding it to hot chocolate, coffee and cocktails. And, you can even bake with it!
Baking with Irish cream
Irish cream is also really fun and delicious to bake with. Here are some tasty Irish cream desserts:
- Baileys Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Guinness Donuts with Baileys Glaze
- Baileys Chocolate Pudding
- Guinness Cake with Irish Cream Frosting
- Baileys French Toast
- Baileys Cheesecake
Baileys is also really good drizzled over vanilla ice cream.
Baileys is a type of liqueur called “Irish cream.” With a base of Irish whiskey and cream, Baileys also offers hints of vanilla, chocolate and coffee.
Baileys Original Irish Cream is a sweet, cream liqueur with a base of Irish whiskey and cream.
Irish cream is a cream-based liqueur made with Irish cream and the flavors of vanilla, chocolate and coffee.
According to the Baileys website, both opened and unopened bottles of Baileys Original last two years from the date of bottling when stored between 32°F to 77°F (0°C to 25°C). However, the shelf life of the flavored styles of Baileys vary.
Homemade Irish cream should not be stored at room temperature, however, as it usually contains fresh, real cream.
Store-bought Irish cream will keep for about 2 years unrefrigerated if stored out of direct sunlight and in temperatures between 32°F and 77°F.
The regular Baileys Original Irish Cream liqueur is not dairy-free. However, the brand does sell a dairy-free option called Baileys Almande, which is made with almond milk.
Irish cream cocktails
If you have a sweet tooth, a delicious
It adds a creamy taste and texture as well as brings the subtle flavors of coffee, chocolate and vanilla into the mix.
Another great way to enjoy this unique spirit is to turn hot coffee and hot chocolate into dessert drinks by stirring in some Irish cream.
Our favorite Irish cream cocktails
- Classic Irish Coffee
- Iced Irish Coffee
- Baby Guinness Shots
- Baileys Iced Coffee
- Irish Cream Cold Brew
- Baileys Colada
Now that you know the answer to the question, “What is Baileys,” what will you make with it next?