This Starbucks copycat Irish Cream Cold Brew is so good, you'll be craving an iced coffee in the dead of winter! This holiday drink has a homemade chocolatey Irish Cream syrup swirled into cold brew, and then topped with a layer of cloud-like vanilla sweet cream cold foam to make it extra creamy. It's then finished off with a dusting of cocoa powder.
Iced coffee is perfectly acceptable year-round. Period. Even in the coldest weather, I'll still opt for an iced coffee.
While Irish Cream may not seem über holiday-themed for some of us, the drink itself reminds me of a chilled hot chocolate with coffee that's topped with whipped cream. But, if you're not a fan of iced coffee year-round, then you can add the homemade Irish Cream Syrup to just about any drink. Starbucks also serves a warm Irish Cream latte and an Irish Cream Americano if you ask!
The Irish Cream Cold Brew was first released by Starbucks in December 2019 as part of the holiday drink line up. It was developed by Erin Marinan, a product developer at Starbucks. She was inspired by nostalgic memories of making homemade Irish cream with her family, which was then gifted to loved ones during the holidays (Source).
Reading the story behind the drink made me think about the first time my mom, brother, and I went to Starbucks when we moved to the U.S. from Canada. Of course, there's Starbucks in Canada, but we were a Tim Horton's family. I remember the baristas were so kind as to let us try a few different drinks (none of which we liked). I eventually settled on a mocha as my go-to, even into adulthood. Chocolate + coffee has always been one of my favorite combos.
It's especially delicious because Starbucks cold brew has notes of cocoa which are complimented by the Irish Cream. Everyone knows coffee and chocolate are a match made in heaven.
Ingredients - Notes and Substitutions
The ingredients for Starbucks Irish Cream Cold Brew are listed off as Brewed Coffee, Ice, Vanilla Sweet Cream [Cream, Milk, Vanilla Syrup], Irish Cream Syrup, and Cocoa Powder Topping.
The first step is to make the Irish Cream Syrup. It can also be purchased bottled by popular syrup companies, but it's easy to make at home! Irish Cream is creamy, nutty, and has prominent chocolate and vanilla flavors. It pairs super well with coffee or with something creamy like the sweet cream cold foam. Combine the syrup with coffee and sweet cream cold foam and you’ve got yourself an incredible morning or afternoon burst of caffeine.
- Simple syrup - To make the base of the Irish Cream Syrup, we just need sugar and water at a one-to-one ratio.
- Cocoa powder - Use high quality unsweetened cocoa powder, since it is going in an already sweet simple syrup. This is what gives the chocolate flavor, of course, and it garnishes the sweet cream cold foam. Substitute with chocolate syrup.
- Extracts - To make it a tiny bit nutty, this recipe uses an almond extract. It can be omitted if absolutely necessary. Use real, high quality vanilla extract.
- Cold brew - Use homemade cold brew or bottled cold brew concentrate.
- Vanilla sweet cream cold foam - This is the sweetened creamy, foamy topping on the cold brew. It's made of heavy cream, 2% milk, and vanilla syrup.
How to make Irish Cream Syrup
I'm a huge fan of making syrups at home for my coffee! I always start with a 1-to-1 ratio of sugar to water to make simple syrup. From there, it's a matter of adding flavor! As I mentioned, Irish Cream has prominent notes of vanilla and chocolate.
To make about 10 ounces of Irish Cream Syrup, start with 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring the water to a boil in a sauce pan, and then pour in the sugar. Once the sugar melts, remove the pan from heat and add the almond extract, vanilla extract, and cocoa powder.
Give the syrup a really good whisk to remove any clumps of cocoa powder. Then, set aside the syrup to allow it to cool completely.
Once the Irish Cream syrup has fully cooled, transfer it to a syrup bottle. If the cocoa powder is still clumpy, I recommend straining it into the bottle. Now, it's ready for use!
Use up to 1 ounce for coffees, dessert toppings, on pancakes, etc.
How to make Irish Cream Cold Brew
Once you've made the Irish Cream Syrup, we'll need to make the vanilla sweet cream cold foam which sits on top of the cold brew. The creamy cold foam is made with just 3 ingredients - heavy cream, 2% milk, and vanilla syrup. Simply pour everything into a large mason jar or a bowl and use an electric mixer, frother, etc to mix it until it's a thicker than melted ice cream and right before it hits soft peaks.
Pour the cold brew concentrate into a glass with ice, if desired. Then, add 1 ounce of the Irish Cream Syrup. Mix it in with a spoon or straw until fully combined. Then, top the cold brew with about a ¼ - ½ cup of the vanilla sweet cream cold foam.
Lastly, sift a tiny bit of cocoa powder on top of the creamy cold foam. Now, your Irish Cream Cold Brew is ready to enjoy!
How to Store Irish Cream Syrup
Store the Irish Cream Syrup in an airtight syrup dispenser for up to two weeks at room temperature, or in the fridge for up to a month.
Add a ¼ teaspoon of citric acid to preserve it for even longer, for up to six months. Another option is a 2-to-1 ratio of sugar to water, a rich syrup which has enough sugar content to prevent the growth of bacteria for up to six months.
I grabbed this adorable syrup dispenser with a gold label from Etsy.
More Coffee Recipes to try
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Irish Cream Cold Brew (Starbucks Dupe)
- ice, as necessary
- 1 cup cold brew
- ½ cup vanilla sweet cream cold foam
- ¼ teaspoon cocoa powder, for topping
- In a sauce pan on medium heat, pour in the water and bring it to a rolling boil. Add the sugar and stir until it's fully dissolved. Remove the simple syrup from heat and add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and cocoa powder. Whisk everything together to ensure there are no clumps of cocoa powder.
- Set aside the Irish Cream Syrup cool. Once it has cooled, transfer the syrup to a clean, sanitized syrup dispenser.
- Make the vanilla sweet cream cold foam by combining heavy cream, 2% milk, and vanilla syrup (see recipe). Froth the sweet cream cold foam until it's thick and fluffy.
- Pour the cold brew into a cup (with ice if desired). Add an ounce of the Irish Cream Syrup, and stir until it's fully combined. Then, pour ¼ - ½ cup of the vanilla sweet cream cold foam.
- Sift the cocoa powder to garnish the cold foam and enjoy immediately.
- Substitute cocoa powder with chocolate syrup.