14 Irish Cream Liqueurs, Ranked Worst To Best

Although Irish cream liqueur is a relatively new invention, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's been around forever. Ever since Baileys hit shelves in the 1970s, Irish creams have found huge success as a cocktail and cooking ingredient, and as a cordial to be enjoyed neat or poured over ice.

The flavor of Irish cream liqueurs varies between brands, but for the most part, you'll be met with milky vanilla and chocolate, and perhaps a hint of Irish whiskey, blended together in a concoction with a delectably creamy mouthfeel. The drink's simplicity makes it hugely versatile, something that only enhances its popularity. This is wonderful — but it also means it can be hard to navigate today's many, many brands and variations. 

I've had the good fortune to taste plenty of different Irish cream liqueurs during my many years as an international cocktail bartender — including very enjoyable visits to Ireland — putting them to the test in all manner of food and drink recipes. Some were relegated to the back of the bar shelf (or given away to less discerning bar staff) while others made my shopping list time and time again. Below, I've ranked some of the Irish cream liqueurs that have stood out to me over the years, in the hope you'll discover an exciting new brand to try next time you're looking for something rich, creamy, and delicious.

14. Barry's Irish Cream

Barry's Irish Cream has an interesting background, as it was born behind the doors of a venue that received consistent accolades as one of America's best Irish pubs. Unfortunately, Barry's Irish Pub closed its doors back in September 2023, but this move has allowed the owners to divert their full attention to the production of their bespoke liqueur.

The liqueur itself is made on the other side of the pond in Ireland by a company called Merry's based in County Tipperary, then imported to the United States. It's certainly a tasty Irish cream liqueur and gets the basics right; it's decadently creamy, not too boozy, and boasts rich undertones of vanilla, chocolate, and a touch of coffee. However, the price point of Barry's is a little puzzling. Merry's produces its own range of Irish creams with its own name and branding on the bottle, which you can find for around $14. But a bottle of Barry's will set you back $35, on the premium end of the scale for this type of liqueur. Ultimately, unless you're happy to spend double to support a small business, you may as well choose the Merry's branded bottle instead.

13. O'Mara's Irish Country Cream

Generally speaking, there are three types of Irish cream liqueur rooted in the base spirit they use: those made with 100% Irish whiskey, those made with a neutral grain spirit, and those that use a combination of the two. Each has its own perks and drawbacks. But O'Mara's Irish Country Cream takes a unique fourth approach.

O'Mara's starts with a neutral grain spirit but incorporates fine wine into the base as well. This helps take the edge off the grain spirit, which usually imparts a fairly rough characteristic into liqueurs. The wine helps the fresh cream – made with milk from cows relatively local to O'Mara's Irish distillery – retain its silky smoothness while keeping the production costs low enough to offer the liqueur at a reasonable price. It also introduces a tangy sweetness which makes it a great addition to desserts, like the coffee-and-ice-cream-based affogato. If you prefer Irish cream liqueurs that have the depth of real Irish whiskey, O'Mara's might not be for you, but it's still worth checking out, especially if you have a bit of a sweet tooth.

12. Ryan's Irish Cream

While Ryan's Irish Cream is made in the U.S., it shouldn't be written off as an inauthentic Irish cream. Firstly, it's produced by the Sazerac company, one of the world's most historic and acclaimed spirits conglomerates with a portfolio that includes almost every type of spirit you can think of. Secondly, the Ryan's recipe also includes imported whiskey from Ireland, which is combined with fresh cream, natural vanilla, and quality chocolate.

This results in a liqueur that has won awards for its impeccable smoothness. While there are better Irish cream liqueurs out there, the fact that Ryan's is made stateside means the price stays low, making it one of the best value-for-money variants on the market. It's versatile enough to be enjoyed chilled or over ice, but the strong vanilla and mocha elements make it a particularly excellent ingredient in coffee cocktails. O'Mara's is especially suitable for making a warming Irish coffee or an extra creamy espresso martini if you balance it with the right type of coffee.

11. The Irishman Irish Cream Liqueur

The Irishman Irish Cream Liqueur stands out because it's one of the few expressions to solely rely on authentic Irish whiskey as its base spirit. While it can sometimes be hard to guarantee the quality of the whiskey used in liqueurs, that doesn't pose an issue with this beverage.

If you're familiar with your Irish whiskeys, you may have already noticed that this cream liqueur shares its name with a range of superb drams that embody the tradition of the style. This is because said drams are made by the same distillers. Combining The Irishman whiskey with 100% fresh Irish cream and natural vanilla results in a slightly boozier-tasting liqueur that hits all the high notes of cocoa and toffee while introducing the touches of dried fruit and honey that are synonymous with the whiskey style. This international award-winning liqueur is a surefire hit if you're a whiskey lover, offering more bite than versions that rely on a blended base, without veering into the harshness that's sometimes present with grain spirits. On the other hand, if you prefer a mellower experience, The Irishman may be a bit too intense to drink without mixing.

10. Molly's Irish Cream Liqueur

Produced in one of the world's oldest cream liqueur manufacturing plants (once operated by Bailey's) in the heart of Ireland's dairy country, Molly's is an expertly crafted Irish cream liqueur. Using modern production techniques, the company fuses the freshest Irish dairy cream with a split base of Irish whiskey and spirits and natural chocolate flavoring.

Price-wise, Molly's is mid-range, but the extra dollars are worth it for an incredibly approachable liqueur that has all the flavor of a whiskey-based Irish cream without the intensity. Interestingly, hints of coconut pop up alongside the chocolate, making it a delicious sipper while also lending itself extremely well to desserts and sweet sauces. Molly's is also known for producing intriguing twists on the classic recipe, including a coconut version that amplifies the sweet, nutty ingredient, and a seasonal pumpkin spice edition that boasts notes of clove, cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar. While the whole Molly's range can be enjoyed chilled or poured over a handful of ice cubes, the unique flavors beg for experimentation, both behind the bar and in the kitchen.

9. Brady's Irish Cream Liqueur

Brady's is a particularly flavorful Irish cream liqueur from Derry, up in Northern Ireland. Crafted in small batches with excellent attention to detail, it's pretty straightforward to source and comes at a reasonable price.

Natural vanilla and chocolate flavorings are added to boost the overall taste profile, and extra-fresh cream boosts the milky notes of the liqueur. Brady's also uses Irish single malt whiskey in conjunction with grain spirits for the base, meaning you'll find aromas of dried fruit and nuts with some peppery spice and butterscotch thrown in for good measure. The heat of the whiskey lays low for the most part but rears its head at the finish line in a pleasantly tingly manner that's not too overwhelming for non-whiskey drinkers. All in all, the range of flavors present and the attractive pricing make Brady's another versatile pick that's delicious over ice, in cocktails, or as a cooking ingredient.

8. Michael's Irish Cream

Michael's is one of the more complex Irish cream liqueurs on the market, in part because of its higher whiskey content. The classic characteristics are present in abundance — vanilla, chocolate, and a touch of coffee — but there's also a wider variety of sweet notes on offer.

Lactic sweetness is at the forefront, emboldened with richer flavors of caramel and butterscotch. If the body was a little thicker, it would taste just like melted, boozy ice cream. The whiskey adds hints of toasted nuts to the tasting profile, but most of the alcohol's heat is tempered by sweetness, except for a slightly fiery finish that isn't unwelcome. The saccharine elements might be too much for some, but these make Michael's a premium pick for desserts and after-dinner drinks. It's my go-to bottle for zhuzhing up a classic Irish cream chocolate fondue around the holidays, as it balances out darker chocolate and adds even more depth to the luxurious Swiss-inspired delicacy. It also works a treat in an Irish coffee.

7. Carolans Irish Cream

Developed in Ireland back in 1978, Carolans is the second biggest Irish cream brand in the world after Baileys. This popularity doesn't come from tasting like that famous brand, but because it has a somewhat unique flavor for an Irish cream. Real cream and Irish whiskey are both present in Carolans, along with some grain spirit, but Carolans uses natural honey as a sweetener as opposed to the classic vanilla and chocolate combo.

The result is an award-winning Irish cream liqueur that's more versatile than most alternatives. Its honeyed aspect makes it ideal for balancing ingredients in rich, boozy cocktails and hard milkshakes. This goes double for its variants, which include Carolans Salted Caramel and Carolans Peanut Butter. Whether it tastes better than Baileys neat or on the rocks is entirely subjective, but I find it's a better option for use as a cooking ingredient, whether you're making boozy homemade fudge or adding a splash to the egg wash of your French toast.

6. Five Farms Irish Cream Liqueur

Five Farms Irish Cream Liqueur has gained quite a reputation since its inception, thanks to its status as a true farm-to-table product from the heartland of Irish dairy, County Cork. The cream is sourced from five family-owned farms in the region and is used within just 48 hours of production.

The small-batch production methods, local freshness, and high-quality Irish whiskey present in Five Farms' product are all a part of what's earned the liqueur a record-breaking score in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge. While it doesn't reinvent the wheel, Five Farms Irish Cream Liquer is an excellent example of what you get when you master the basics of a beverage. It's supremely creamy and well-rounded, expertly showcasing high notes of vanilla and coffee. But then comes the issue of price. On average, you can expect to pay between $35 and $40 for a 750ml bottle of Five Farms when it's readily available. Although you can find half-sized retail bottles, it's a steep price for any Irish liqueur. If you're happy paying extra knowing your money is going towards an independent, farm-to-table venture, then it's an excellent choice; however, in pure value-for-money terms, there are arguably better alternatives.

5. Kerrygold Superior Irish Cream Liqueur

Those familiar with Kerrygold will know it as one of the most highly regarded butter makers on the market, so there are high expectations for its attempt at making an Irish cream liqueur. Although historically, the brand wasn't intended for the Irish market, the high-quality milk used in Kerrygold products is sourced from Ireland, just like the whiskey used in this liqueur.

It should come as no surprise that the dairy element of Kerrygold Superior Irish Cream liqueur is the star of the show, being unbelievably smooth and creamy but never too heavy. The added chocolate is also noticeable, and complements the vanilla elements well without being cloying. The whiskey is very subtle, but adds some balance and spice. Kerrygold usually comes in around $20 a bottle, which is exceedingly good value for a liqueur of this quality. It's best served chilled or poured over ice, which enables the drinker to savor every note of the liqueur unadulterated by other ingredients. But it's also versatile enough to work well in cocktails and cooking recipes.

4. Saint Brendan's Irish Cream

Saint Brendan's — named for an adventurous Irish apostle — is another Irish cream liqueur that lets the whiskey do the talking. Made in Derry, Northern Ireland, Saint Brendan's combines the freshest cream with triple-distilled, bourbon cask-aged Irish whiskey from The Quiet Man.

There's some grain spirit mixed in too, judging from the slight harshness, but this is mostly evened out by the addition of honey. The honey and whiskey give Saint Brendan's a slightly spicy sweetness that adds character to the mellow chocolate and vanilla marshmallow notes, though it's still soft enough to enjoy on its own. If anything, it's a little too subdued — it feels like the whiskey is underused. You'd also expect a little more bite and complexity, considering the quality of the base spirit. That said, Saint Brendan's is my number one pick for cooking, especially when it's used to enhance sweet baked goods like rich chocolate trifles, decadent brownies, and chewy cookies. The price is reasonable enough to keep a bottle on hand, but it's better kept in the kitchen than behind the bar.

3. Baileys Irish Cream

Despite Ireland having a storied history in both the whiskey and dairy worlds, it wasn't until the 1970s that the first Irish cream liqueur hit the market, invented, ironically, in Essex, England. The product, as you've probably guessed, was Baileys, the true original Irish cream that inspired all those following it, including every bottle on this list.

While being the first doesn't necessarily equate to being the best, it's hard to deny that Baileys is still a top-tier Irish cream liqueur despite fierce market competition. Its proprietary recipe blends the usual cream, whiskey, and grain spirits with a handful of flavoring ingredients. This gives Baileys its iconic chocolatey vanilla flavor, with gorgeous notes of caramel and a touch of coffee. It's really hard to find anything bad to say about Baileys. Sure, it's mass-produced and can't make any claims of being independent or a small-batch liqueur, but it doesn't need to in order to win fans. The alcohol is mellow and inoffensive; it's approachable, affordable, and easy to find; and it's as versatile as an Irish cream can be.

2. Baileys Chocolat Luxe

Baileys is no stranger to special editions — there are dozens of twists on the classic recipe available. Strawberries and cream, vanilla mint, apple pie, and salted caramel are just a few of the seemingly endless options. But there's only one I feel deserves its own spot on this rundown.

Baileys Chocolat Luxe — made with real Belgian chocolate — is as close as one can get to drinking alcoholic chocolate milk. It simultaneously manages to be exceedingly decadent without being so rich you can't stomach another glass — in fact, the opposite is true. It's also a great option for combining with other liqueurs whose flavors marry well with chocolate, such as hazelnut-flavored Frangelico, orangey Cointreau, or zippy Creme de Menthe. Plus, Baileys Chocolat Luxe is the perfect ingredient for upgrading chocolate desserts with a boozy twist, like tiramisu or no-bake cheesecakes. If you're a chocoholic, think twice before you pick up a bottle of regular Baileys and opt for this one instead — you certainly won't regret it.

1. Coole Swan Irish Cream Liqueur

Finally, we arrive at the only Irish cream liqueur I've discovered that I would safely rate above Baileys: Coole Swan. The magic is in its simplicity. Real Belgian chocolate melted into Irish whiskey and fresh cream with a touch of Madagascan vanilla is more than enough to create an Irish cream liqueur that can truly be considered a premium pour. It's worth every penny of its higher-end price point.

Coole Swan is perfectly balanced in a way that's almost difficult to comprehend. It's supremely smooth, and the whiskey manages to have a robust presence without being in any way too hot or overpowering. Simultaneously, it's sweet without being sickly or cloying, and lighter than the competition without losing anything in the way of body or mouthfeel. Aside from making it superb on its own after some chilling, these qualities make it a remarkable addition to cocktails, including those you might not think of adding Irish cream liqueur to. It's even delicate enough to add to drinks like a Pina Colada or gin spritz, as long as you remember to sub out any acidic citrus components to avoid curdling.


The Irish cream liqueurs listed in this article are all brands that I've been lucky enough to try over an extensive career in the hospitality industry. I've worked around the world in all manner of bars, restaurants, cafes, and catering businesses.

After listing all the brands I've encountered over the years — there may have been a handful that slipped my memory, but that can only mean they didn't truly stand out — I narrowed the group down to the ones I would wholeheartedly recommend. The number one criteria I bore in mind was taste, but it's important to remember that versatility is what makes Irish cream liqueurs so iconic. Therefore, I also gave credit where it was due to bottles that may not shine on their own, but are superb additions to cocktails or cooking recipes. I also factored in value-for-money and availability, as I didn't want to include entries that are no longer available or are nearly impossible to track down.