I love giving homemade gifts at the holidays—especially drinkable ones—and I’d never made homemade Irish cream before. **I knew that even those who might forgo the commercial stuff wouldn’t be able to resist it if it were made from scratch, and by a friend.** It turns out to be spectacularly straightforward—especially if you use a blender instead of a whisk. Making Irish cream at home also allows for control over the flavor and the alcohol content. I like to keep it pretty simple, with the flavor of the whiskey in the foreground, and just a teaspoon each of espresso powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. But there’s no reason not to play with recipe to your taste: I’ve heard of the addition of almond extract, or honey, or nutmeg.
Your homemade Irish cream won’t have the same, leisurely shelf life as the bottled stuff. It’ll keep in the fridge for about a week. But don’t worry about it: Odds are it won’t make it past Christmas night. —Rosie Schaap
Rosie Schaap is the “Drink” columnist for The New York Times Magazine and the author of the memoir, Drinking With Men. Schaap has also written for publications including Food & Wine, Lucky Peach, The New York Times Book Review, Saveur, and Travel + Leisure, and her essays have been published in numerous anthologies.