baileys_rossano2Red Bank’s Jenny Rossano shares a holiday recipe with PieHole that’s equal parts fond memories and booze. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)


This time of year, PieHole can not get enough of homemade holiday gifts. Especially boozy ones. Save your gift cards and store-bought candy: for us, the most thoughtful gifts always come out of the kitchen.

And so, when we tasted Jenny Rossano’s homemade Bailey’s Irish Creme, PieHole knew that this recipe and the story behind it needed a wider audience, hoping that it will encourage a bit more homemade booze-gifting on The Green.

The recipe below comes from Ireland by way of Little Rock, Arkansas. can’t compete with the hand-written recipes that Red Bank’s Jenny Rossano digs out each holiday season. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

Rossano and her husband, Alex, were married in Arkansas and moved to Red Bank right after their honeymoon. But while in Arkansas, the couple ran together with a group called the Hash House Harriers, recognized worldwide as “the drinking club with a running problem.” It was through the group that Rossano became close with another running couple, Barbara and Jerry Southerland.

“[The Southerlands] always had a day after Christmas party, and they would serve this at the party,” says Jenny.  “Barbara gave me the recipe, which she told me originally came from a nurse she knew named Peter, who was from Ireland.”

Now, Rossano makes it every year, and gives away bottles as gifts during the holidays.

And it’s not just the Bailey’s recipe that she pulls out this time of year. Rossano has a stack of hand-written recipes that she’s received from friends and relatives over the years that come out during the holidays.

Thumbing through a stack of stained, handwritten recipes Rossano tells PieHole, “this time of year especially it’s important to try to keep these traditions alive.”

“You can probably get better recipes than this one,” she says holding the stained paper copy of the Bailey’s recipe, “but this recipe and my other handwritten ones are so important.”

“When you look at the handwritten recipe and the stains the cover them, you’re transported back to your kitchen, and the smells with your mom or grandmom or whoever it was who made those receipes,” says Rossano. “ just doesn’t give you the same thing.”

Rossano says she and her daughter, Kelly, make a few of the recipes together every year around this time.

“When you pass down recipes,” she says,  “it’s a chance to teach your kids to cook.”

She says she always thinks of the Southerlands and their time together when she makes the Bailey’s.

“Plus,” says Rossano, laughing, “you can drink it any time of day without guilt. You can put it in your coffee, too. It’s not just an evening drink.”

The Barbara and Jerry Southerland’s Bailey’s Recipe From an Irish Nurse Named Peter  (transcribed from the stained original).

  • One can of sweetened, condensed milk.
  • Use the can as a measure and add one can of Irish or Scotch whiskey (Rossano prefers Jameson or Bushmills)
  • Melt a teaspoon of instant coffee in a couple tablespoons of water and add about half a pint of half and half … or a little less.
  • Some people add a few drops of vanilla
  • Stir well, put on some music, move the logs in the fire, dim the lights, pour over some ice in a large heavy glass, say out loud, “Cheers, Peter” and enjoy.
  • Rossano bottles it in cleaned, reused Grolsch (swing-clip) beer bottles and says it should be refrigerated.