If you’re in search of the best Irish drinks ahead of a visit to Ireland, you’ve landed in the right spot.
Or, if you’re living across the pond and you fancy sampling some Irish alcohol, you’re very welcome, too!
Some quick need-to-knows about Irish drinks
Before we dive into our favourite Irish beverages, it’s worth taking 10 seconds to ready these need-to-knows, first:
1. They fall into several categories
2. Famous Irish drinks
Guinness, Jameson and Baileys are arguably three of the most popular Irish drinks. However, there are many other Irish alcohol brands, like Murphy’s, Drumshambo, Dingle, Powers and much more that are well-known in Ireland and abroad.
3. Popular drinks in Ireland
We get asked ‘What do Irish people drink?’ quite a bit, and it’s a hard question to answer. Guinness is always a popular one, but there’s plenty of other Irish bar drinks, like Smithwicks and Killbegan that people drink here.
What we think are the best Irish alcoholic drinks
The first section of our guide looks at what we think are the best Irish drinks, and we’ve sampled enough of them over the years…
Below, you’ll find everything from Murphy’s and Baileys to some often overlooked famous Irish drinks.
Guinness arguably tops the list of the most famous Irish drinks on the market today. It has been brewed at St. James’s Gate in Dublin since 1759.
For as far back as I can remember, Guinness has always been referred to as a stout, however, if you visit the Guinness website they now call it a beer…
Guinness is one of those Irish drinks, a little bit like an Irish coffee, that you eat with your eyes, first.
If you visit a pub that serves a decent pint, you’ll get a nice creamy head, no bitterness, and nice hints of coffee (see our guide to the best Guinness in Dublin if you’re visiting the capital).
2. Irish coffee
You can’t bate an Irish coffee on a cold winters evening, after a day of being lashed on by the rain while out walking in the countryside!
Now, if you’re wondering what an Irish coffee actually is, it’s coffee… with whiskey!
You also add a thick dollop of whipped cream on top along with some sugar.
This is one of the more traditional Irish drinks and, if you follow this recipe, it’s very handy to make.
3. Baileys Irish Cream
Bailey’s will always remind me of Christmas. Actually, Christmas and Sunday evenings during winter, as my Mam used to sip away on a glass of it while we watched a movie.
If you’re not familiar with it, Baileys Irish Cream is an Irish cream liqueur.
Although it looks a bit like chocolate milk, it is, in fact, an alcoholic drink that’s flavoured with cream, some cocoa, and, of course, a dash of Irish whiskey.
If you’re looking for popular Irish drinks that aren’t overly strong taste-wise and that can be nursed slowly, try Baileys. It’s sweet, indulgent, and perfect for after dinner.
4. Redbreast 12
Redbreast 12 is my favourite of the many Irish whiskey brands.
It’s especially good for drinkers like myself who find many whiskeys a bit too, eh, burney… is that even a word?!
I realise that’ll make me sound like a tool, but bear with me. If you’ve ever tasted a whiskey before and found the taste too sharp or intense, you’re not alone.
Many whiskeys could easily double up as toilet cleaner, they’re that high in alcohol.
This is smooth, sweet and one of easier Irish whiskeys to drink straight.
5. Murphy’s Stout
Murphy’s Irish stout is one of several beers like Guinness that are well worth a taste!
Murphy’s originated in Cork and dates back to 1856.
This stout is only 4% proof, so it’s pleasant to drink and leaves very little after taste.
I’ve also been told that it’s one of the few traditional Irish drinks that doesn’t give you a hangover, but I’ll have to report back on that!
More popular traditional Irish drinks
The second section of our guide looks at some of the more famous Irish alcohol brands, many of which are some of the most popular drinks in Ireland.
Below, you’ll find everything from Jameson and Drumshambo to some other tasty Irish bar drinks.
1. Bulmers/Magners Irish Cider
Our only cider on the list is Bulmers – a drink that’s perfect for those of you with a sweet tooth.
During my early drinking days, I only ever drank Bulmers.
Which is why that, for the past 12 years, every time I smell the stuff now my stomach turns a little.
Anyway! Bulmers (in Ireland) or Magners (outside of Ireland) is an Irish cider brand that’s produced in Tipperary from 17 varieties of apples (and loads of other stuff, obviously).
I’d heard a lot of chatter about Kilkenny Irish cream ale from a lad I went to college with, whose parents lived in Thomastown in Kilkenny.
It wasn’t until several years after I finished college, in a bar in Kinsale, randomly enough, that I finally got to try it… and it was looooovely, but I haven’t seen it on draft since.
Kilkenny is an Irish cream ale that’s now produced by the makers of Guinness.
It began its life in the St. Francis Abbey Brewery in Kilkenny but it’s now brewed next to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.
Next up is Jameson – one of the most well known Irish alcoholic drinks in the world.
It’s available in over 130 countries and it’s been sold internationally since the early 19th century.
This is a blended Irish whiskey that was one of the six main Dublin Whiskeys. However, Jameson is no longer distilled in the capital.
Production of the whiskey moved to the new Midleton Distillery in Cork.
There’s a heap of different types of Jameson out there and there are even more ways of drinking it if you prefer to avoid drinking (see our guide to the best Jameson cocktails).
4. Drumshanbo Irish Gin
Drumshanbo Irish Gin is a beaut of a drink and it’s the perfect base for many St Patrick’s Day cocktails (it comes in a gorgeous bottle, too, which makes it a solid gift).
It’s created in the Shed Distillery in the little village of Drumshanbo in County Leitrim and it has a lovely strong flavour profile that’s goes beautifully in a G&T.
This is one of the more overlooked Irish liquor drinks and it’s a fine addition to any drinks collection.
5. Tullamore DEW
Tullamore DEW is one of the best cheap Irish whiskies. If I fancy one of these, I tend to pair it with a pint of Guinness.
I like to take a sip of the Tullamore DEW and then follow it up with a mouthful of Guinness.
Now, I know literally nothing about flavour notes and all of that craic, but I can tell you a sip of this Irish alcohol followed by a swing of Guinness tastes mighty.
Tullamore DEW was the second-largest selling Irish whiskey brand globally in 2015, with sales of 950,000+ cases sold.
This whiskey was originally produced in Tullamore in Offaly, in an old distillery that was established in 1829.
Tasty Irish cocktails that pack a punch
The final section of our guide is all about cocktails and, luckily enough, Irish alcohol tends to lend itself well to a mixer and a bit of ice.
Below, you’ll find some very tasty Irish alcoholic drinks, like the Irish Maid and more.
1. Irish Maid
The Irish Maid is a very easy cocktail to knock up and it packs a punch flavour wise. Ingredients wise, you’ll need a good whiskey, some elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup and slices of cucumber.
You need to muddle two slices of cucumber in a shaker, first, and then add the rest of your ingredients, along with a handful of ice.
Shake hard and strain into a glass with ice. In my opinion, there are few Irish alcoholic drinks that are as easy and as tasty as the Irish Maid.
2. Nutty Irishman
The Nutty Irishman is one of the more popular Irish drinks to sip away on after dinner (it’s very indulgent). It’s also easy to dress up with garnish.
Ingredients wise, you’ll need Baileys Irish Cream, Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur, whipped cream, smashed hazelnuts for garnishing and ice (here’s the measurements).
3. Espresso Martini with Baileys
Few traditional Irish drinks are as delicious as the Espresso Martini with Baileys. This one, when made correctly, really is a banger!
You’ll need freshly brewed espresso (not instant!), Baileys Irish Cream and vodka to mix this up (get a decent vodka). To make it, add whiskey, vodka and espresso to a shaker 1/2 filled with ice and shake.
Strain into a fresh glass and garnish with a couple of coffee beans. See more drinks like this in our guide to the best Irish whiskey cocktails.
4. Irish Eyes
The Irish Eyes is one of several green Irish liquor drinks that tend to be popular around Paddy’s Day. And the beauty of it is that you can knock it up in a couple of minutes.
You’ll need Baileys, whiskey, green Crème de menthe and fresh cream. You then need to add the ingredients to a shaker 1/2 filled with ice and shake hard. Strain into a glass like the one above to serve.
5. Irish Sour
And last but by no means least in our guide to the best Irish drinks is the Irish Sour. This is an Irish twist on a classic cocktail and, while it may look tricky to make, it really isn’t.
If you follow this recipe, you’ll need whiskey, egg whites, lemon juice, simple syrup, some Angostura bitters, a shaker and ice. Taste wise, it’s strong and zesty and it’s a great pre-dinner drink.
What do Irish people drink?
We get emails constantly asking ‘What do they drink in Ireland?’. And we more than often struggle to come up with a reply.
Why? Well, it’s impossible to narrow down what exactly it is that Irish people drink, as taste is completely subjective.
Sure, you could probably dig out a list of the most popular Irish drinks and get an idea from the most units sold, but that’s still a bit of a generalisation.
If you’re reading this and you’re Irish, pop a comment into the comments section below and let us know what your regular drink is.
FAQs about popular Irish drinks
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from What Irish alcoholic drinks are popular in Ireland?’ to ‘Which Traditional Irish drinks are the tastiest?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What are the best Irish drinks for the weekend?
If you’re a beer drinker, Guinness or Scraggy Bay. If you like gin, try Dingle. If you like whiskey, give Redbreast 12 a crack.
I’m wondering what to drink in Ireland on a trip?
If you’re looking to try something different, there are lots of Irish beers on the market (ask in the pub you visit for a recommendation – they’ll be happy to help!).
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.