Baileys is the go-to brand when it comes to Irish Cream. No wonder, as they were the ones who dreamed it up in the 1970s. But sometimes, you want to save a few bucks and look for a more affordable option. And you certainly want to find decent alternatives to Baileys Irish Cream, as many of the competitors are a little too sweet and have lower alcohol content.
In a nutshell, the most popular replacement for Baileys is Carolans. Whereas the most affordable store-bought recommendation for a Baileys substitute is Ryan's Irish Cream.
If you want to know more about these substitutes and some other budget alternatives to Baileys, check out the list below.
Do you wonder why Baileys is the brand that occupies that top spot in the Irish Cream universe? That question is easy to answer. Baileys was the first Irish Cream on the market ever, and they know their product and their craft.
It's one of the greatest success stories from the Green Island. -Even though it started with nothing more than the desire to develop a product for the international market.
The idea for the Whiskey liqueur was a flash of genius from two consultants involved in the product finding process of an Irish-English company. Their first attempt at the liqueur wasn't more than a plain mix of single cream and Jameson Whiskey. But that evolved into a smooth and tasty blend of Whiskey, cream, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, and other secret flavorings.
The road to the perfect Irish Cream recipe was long. However, once it was found, it was a success and quickly copied by many. Therefore, you can choose from a tremendous selection of alternatives to Baileys Irish cream today. Some closer to the taste of Baileys, some not quite as close.
Best alternatives to Baileys
1. Emmets Classic Cream
With 17% vol, Emmets Irish Cream has the same alcohol content as Baileys, and the taste comes pretty close to the original. However, the consistency is slightly thinner and less creamy. Also, the heat from the alcohol is a little less than you know it from Baileys. But the heat from the Whiskey is still there, making Emmets a good option for cocktails and Irish coffee.
Tastewise, there's a hint of coconut that you won't find in Baileys, and the color of the liqueur is a shade darker and more chocolaty. Emmets entered the market in 1978, only 4 years after the launch of Baileys.
Emmets usually sells for around $14 in the USA. It's quite an affordable option compared to the $30 you have to spend on a bottle of Baileys.
2. Carolans Irish Cream
Carolans is another adequate and popular substitute for Baileys. It was among the first competitors of Baileys. And in terms of US sales volumes, it ranges in the top 3 of Irish Cream liqueurs. Carolans is also the only Irish Cream liqueur that contains honey.
The use of additional sugary ingredients also comes through in the overall taste because, despite the same ABV as Baileys, Carolans is a lot more creamy and sweet.
That makes it very pleasant for sipping it neat or on the rocks and works beautifully in desserts. With an average price of $14, Carolans is in the same range as Emmets and an excellent alternative to Baileys.
Molly's is produced by terra in a former Emmets facility in Ireland. The company is the largest family-owned cream liqueur producer in Ireland.
The color of Molly's Irish Cream is, in fact, very similar to that of the original. Still, it has its very own flavor profile.
It's quite chocolaty, the Irish Whiskey is definitely detectable, and there's also a hint of coconut.
The consistency of Molly's is medium creamy and smooth. With ab ABV of 17%, it works well in cocktails. The extra touch of coconut also makes it a beautiful, unique alternative to Baileys when enjoyed neat. Like Carolans and Emmets, Molly is available for around USD14.
4. Ryan's Irish Cream
Ryan's is a product from New Orleans - from the Sazerac Company, to be precise. If this reminds you of the Sazerac Cocktail, it does rightly so. The company even opened a Sazerac House where, among others, it honors this cocktail. But back to their Irish Cream.
Ryan's is based on Whiskey imported straight out of Ireland. They blend it with cream and infuse it with chocolate, vanilla, and other spices. The taste is just what you expect from an Irish Cream. However, the consistency is slightly thinner, and the texture is not quite as velvety as that of Baileys.
At $10, it's the cheapest store-bought option on our list. That and the ABV of 17% make Ryan's perfect for mixing it into cocktails.
5. Saint Brendan's Irish Cream Liqueur
St. Brendan's is an Irish brand named after Saint Brendan the Abbot, an Irish monk known for his travels and adventure through Ireland in the 5. and 6. century. Well, actually, St. Brendan's is Northern Irish, with the production facility being located just North of Derry.
The smooth Irish cream is made from the triple-distilled Irish Whiskey The Quiet Man. It's a pleasant mix of vanilla, chocolate, and marshmallow flavors with a subtle afterburn from the Whiskey.
Since the 1970s, when Irish Cream was invented, it grew into an enormous market with countless variations. Here are two I find worth mentioning. One is a vegan alternative. The second is one of the higher proof alternatives to Baileys, which can be great in cocktails. And last but not least, you can also do your own.
Baileys Almond - the vegan alternative
In recent years Baileys released a lot of special editions of their traditional Irish Cream. -From salted caramel to Red Velvet and Espresso, there's something for everyone. And they also have a vegan option now, based on almond milk instead of dairy.
The price tag is similar to the original, but the alcohol content is only 13% vol. The flavor is heavy on the vanilla, and the almond is also perceptible. I find Baileys Almond beautiful for deserts or to sip over ice, but I find it too sweet for alcoholic drinks. Yet, it's nice to have a vegan option.
The Whistler Irish Cream - higher ABV alternative to Baileys
The Whistler Blenders Select comes with a price tag similar to Baileys but with a 3% higher ABV. Its 38 proof makes it one of the Irish Creams with the highest alcohol content on the market.
The dominant flavor is caramel, followed by vanilla and chocolate. And also, the Whiskey shines through nicely. The flavor profile and the high ABV make Whistler Irish Cream a perfect substitute for Baileys in cocktails. But it's also a delight when enjoyed neat or over ice.
The Whistler is a product of the Boann Distillery, which only opened its doors in 2017. It's a fairly new product from a family business in the heart of the Boyne Valley.
Homemade Irish Cream
Ultimately, making your own Irish Cream is the most affordable alternative to Baileys. For as little as $6, you can make homemade Irish Cream with a quality Irish Whiskey. This option is also perfect for gifting.