Coffee Cocktails Beyond Baileys

The coffee cocktail is having a major moment.


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Thanks to the mixologists who grew up on artisan roasters and Red Bull, the notion of adding pep to fun punches has gone next level, pushing the once post-dinner coffee drink onto brunch and  happy hour menus.

At Polite Provisions in San Diego, Bartender/Proprietor Erick Castro took a taste of one of his beers, the Speedway Stout, and immediately tasted coffee notes. He capitalized on the cold press coffee from Coffee & Tea collective and created the Dublin Iced Coffee, a blend of Jameson Irish Whiskey, brown sugar syrup, cold press coffee and Speedway Stout.

In New York’s East Village, the bartender/barista duo Sother Teague and Natalie Czech are elevating the coffee cocktail to an art form. Czech’s love for coffee blossomed when she was exposed to Counter Culture, a roaster with a cult-like following among coffee geeks. 

Teague runs the bar program at Amor y Amargo, specializing in amari and other types of bitters. Their creative process starts by identifying the flavors unique to each type of bean, then they add small amounts of amaro or other spirits to enhance or complement those flavors. A current favorite is Counter Culture’s Kenyan Ndaroini, which Czech describes as “almost savory and citrusy, like a tomato, or the flavors of a taco.” 

Teague immediately paired it with blanco Tequila and Pacifico beer, then added Averna, mole bitters, and orange citrate. As unlikely as it sounds, the end result is an herbal, light and refreshing cocktail that pairs well with pork tacos and cilantro.

Other mixologists are following suit and experimenting with this ground-up-medium in Chicago, Boston, and of course Portland and Seattle. Soon, Castro predicts, French presses and other coffee accouterments will be common tools behind the bar. 

Coffee Cocktails

Krakatoa

Recipe courtesy Hale Pele, Portland, Oregon

1 ounce Smith and Cross Traditional Jamaica Rum
1½ ounces Coruba Dark Rum
½ ounce B.G. Reynolds’ Don's Mix Syrup
½ ounce B.G. Reynolds’ Passion Fruit Syrup
¾ ounce lime juice
¾ ounce grapefruit juice
¾ ounce orange juice
2 ounce cold brewed coffee
flaming orange volcano garnish (see below)

Build in a malt tin mixer with 8 ounces of crushed ice and pour into a super thistle glass. Garnish with a flaming orange volcano. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

1 lime wheel
2 plain croutons, soaked in lemon extract
1 orange, peeled with a "y" peeler
Pinch of cinnamon

Float a lime wheel atop crushed ice. Rest the croutons soaked in lemon extract on the wheel. Take an orange and use a "y" peeler to peel the top or bottom of the orange so it curves in the shape of a cone. Leave a hole at the top of the cone so you can light the croutons on fire with a match. It will look like a mini volcano. Then sprinkle with grated cinnamon

Half-Shut Eyes

Recipe courtesy Dave Shenaut, bar director, Raven & Rose, Portland, Oregon

1½ ounces coffee-infused Byrrh Grand Quinquina (recipe below)
3 ounces Boylan’s seltzer

Equipment needed: Yama Cold Brew Drip Tower

In a double old fashioned glass, pour coffee-infused Byrrh over ice, top with seltzer. Garnish with an orange twist. 

Using a Yama Cold Brew Tower fill the top with Byrrh instead of the usual ice water, and set a coarse grind on the coffee. “We use Chelfit, which is a dry-process coffee bean from the Sidamo region of Ethiopia, roasted by Andrea Spella of Spella Caffe,” says Shenaut. “We suggest a single-origin, medium roast African coffee with smooth dark chocolate qualities as well as bright fruit flavors and high acid.”

Christiansted Cannons

Recipe courtesy Jesse Card, bartender, Raven & Rose, Portland, Oregon

“The cannons of Fort Christiansvaern in Christiansted, St. Croix have diligently stood watch since the 1700s,” says Card. “I figured they could use a caffeinated pick-me-up to stand watch a little longer. Our Spella Cold Drip Coffee is a unique roast only for Raven & Rose.”

2 ounces Cruzan Single Barrel Rum
1 ounce Spella Cold Drip Coffee
½ ounce B.G. Reynolds’ Vanilla Syrup
2 ounces Bundaberg Root Beer

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the rum, coffee and vanilla syrup and shake for 12 seconds. Double strain the drink into a Collins glass over crushed ice. Top with Root beer.

Cafe con Alma

Recipe courtesy Nick Crutchfield, bartender, Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar, Charlottesville, Virginia

1 ounce La Puritita Verdá mezcal
½ ounce brown sugar simple syrup
¼ ounce Green Chartreuse
¾ ounce Zucca Amaro
3 ounces hot dark roast black coffee

Whipped cream, grated orange zest and Sal de Guisano (optional), for garnish.

Mix the ingredients together in a mug. Top with freshly whipped non-sweetened cream and grated orange zest. Dust with Sal de Guisano.

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