Baileys is (according to their website) a combination of Irish whisky (produced from whey), cream, cocoa, sugar, vanilla, caramel and a vegetable oil based agent to prevent separation in storage.
There's no absence of recipes on-line for Baileys, however almost all contain ingredients not in the original, such as condensed milk, eggs, coffee, coconut milk, rum, kahlua, Scotch whisky, American whiskey and vodka. Whilst (some) may be great tasting drinks in their own right, their accuracy must surely be questioned - despite popular misconception Baileys is not a coffee based liqueur.
Unimpressed by recipes that I've tried (really I should have known better than to even try the coconut milk version), I have in my latest attempt gone back to basics and produced something from the actual ingredients (or as close to as possible), with Jameson's Irish whisky (produced from grain not whey) and Alpro fresh soya cream in place of dairy cream (as it's by far the closest I've found in taste and consistency).
The quantities of each ingredient isn't specified by Baileys, however the finished product is 17% alcohol by volume, which means that it must contain 38.6% whisky (if information from Wikipedia that 44% alcohol by volume whisky is used).
Using this knowledge and mixing 1 shot whisky, 1 shot cream and 1/2 shot cocoa-glucose syrup gives a drink that is far more like how I remember the original than anything else I've tried.
It's not right though - too chocolaty and not smooth enough, with a harsh alcoholic after-taste that some might like but would certainly put your average Baileys drinker off.
After a few attempts using part cocoa-glucose syrup, part simple syrup, a few drops of vanilla and varying the quantities I found what seems to be the closest to the original I've ever tasted:
- 1 shot Jamesons
- 1/3 shot chocolate syrup
- 2/3 shot simple sugar syrup
- 2 drops bourbon vanilla
- 1.5-2 shots alpro cream
I wouldn't like to claim it's a 100% reproduction of the original, as both my lovely assistant's memory and mine are probably slightly off. I'm also well aware that all alcoholic drinks taste better the more you sample! It is though honestly pretty good.
I used simple syrup purely as it's what I had to hand - we always keep a bottle made up in the fridge for emergency mojitos. I think it may be worth making syrup up for the purpose, using water, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla in appropriate quantities for a more accurate taste.
I'm looking forward to trying it out in some cocktails / food. As it's Christmas the first cocktail that I tried was:
- 2 shots 'baileys'
- 1 generous scoop vanilla soy ice cream
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
The cinnamon in it really works! It was a creamy, smooth, luscious consistency which went down very well drunk with some heated home-made mince pies and custard:
I'm excited by this as it means I can now start playing with cocktails and recipes that call for it, which for the past 10 years I've not been able to try. Kahlua is one of my favourite liqueurs, but Baileys it isn't.