Units and calories in Irish cream liqueur
Get the facts on the unit and calorie content of Irish cream liqueur.
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Irish cream liqueur is an alcoholic drink made by blending whiskey with cream and sugar. But how much alcohol is in it, and how many calories? Read on to find out.
The minimum strength of liqueurs sold in the UK is 15% ABV (alcohol by volume).1 That means at least fifteen percent of the drink is made up by pure alcohol.
Checking an Irish cream liqueur's label for its ABV (alcohol by volume) tells you what percentage of the drink is made up of alcohol. For example, an Irish cream liqueur with 17% ABV is seventeen percent pure alcohol – and the higher the percentage, the more alcohol there is.
A good way to keep track of how much you’re drinking is to know how many units of alcohol are in your drink. One unit of alcohol is 10ml (ten millilitres) of pure alcohol – and the number of units you are drinking depends on the drink’s size and strength.
For example, a 50ml serving of 17% ABV Irish cream liqueur has 0.85 units in it.
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMOs) low risk drinking guidelines advise you not to drink more than 14 units a week, spread over three or more days, with several drink-free days - and no bingeing.
Regularly drinking more than the low risk drinking guidelines increases your risk of serious health conditions including heart problems, high blood pressure and poor mental health. Drinking alcohol also causes at least seven types of cancer, including breast, bowel, mouth and throat cancers.2
Alcohol is high in calories. It contains around seven calories a gram - almost as many as fat.3
And the calories in an Irish cream liqueur don’t just come from the alcohol – it’s high in sugar too.
A 50ml glass of Irish cream liqueur contain 153 calories – about the same as a large chocolate biscuit. This would take you about 15 minutes of running to burn off.
Calories from alcohol are often described as 'empty calories', meaning they have no nutritional value because they are consumed in addition to the calories your body needs. Drinking alcohol affects the way your body processes fat for energy too, and alcohol makes you more likely to store fat around your middle.5,6
Irish cream liqueur is a strong alcoholic drink, but it’s sweetened flavour can make it easy to underestimate how much alcohol you’re having. To stay on track, try these top tips:
Irish cream liqueur is often automatically sold as a double (50ml) measure in pubs and restaurants (0.8 units). To reduce your units, you could ask for a single serving (0.4 units), and double up on ice.
If you’re drinking at home, it can be harder to pour accurate 50ml measures. You could be over-pouring and drinking more units than you think. Order a unit measuring cup to keep track of your units at home.
If you drink regularly, your body starts to build up a tolerance to alcohol. This is one of the reasons the UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines recommend having several drink free days each week, as well as not drinking more than 14 units per week, or binge drinking.
 Regulation (EU) 2019/787 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Clause 33, ANNEX I, CATEGORIES OF SPIRIT DRINKS. [Accessed 23 February 2023]. Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/eur/2019/787/annexes/2019-04-17
 Brown, K.F., Rumgay, H., Dunlop, C., Ryan, M., Quartly, F., Cox, A., Deas, A., Elliss-Brookes, L., Gavin, A., Hounsome, L. and Huws, D. (2018). The fraction of cancer attributable to modifiable risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom in 2015. British Journal of Cancer, 118(8), 1130.
 Sonko, B. J., Prentice, A. M., Murgatroyd, P. R., et al. (1994). Effect of alcohol on postmeal fat storage. Am J Clin Nutr, 59, 619-25.
 Golzarand, M., Salari-Moghaddam, A., & Mirmiran, P. (2022). Association between alcohol intake and overweight and obesity: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of 127 observational studies. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 62(29), 8078–8098. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2021.1925221
 Shi, H. and Clegg, D.J. (2009). Sex differences in the regulation of body weight. Physiology &Behavior, 97(2), pp.199-204.
Last Reviewed: 7th March 2023
Next Review due: 7th March 2026