You don’t need to be a bartender to make cocktails, especially if you make them at home or a party. And if you are a coffee lover you can make coffee cocktails too. You just need to be passionate about the art of mixing different spirits and ingredients with coffee, to highlight each one.
How can we do that from scratch without any knowledge? Simply by following coffee cocktails recipes and by tasting them. I’m going to introduce some classic coffee-based cocktails recipes that are common over the world. But first, let’s talk about the how and why of mixing up ingredients with coffee.
Coffee based cocktails
First of all, when making cocktails you should invest in good spirits and ingredients. You don’t need to spend on an expensive one, but something that is in between a poor quality one and an expensive one. You can also save money from making your syrups and so invest in good booze.
What spirits or liquor mix better with coffee?
Honestly, whatever you want according to your taste. Remember that also coffee plays a big part in the final result.
Coffee cocktails recipes
So, how to make coffee cocktails? When making coffee cocktails, I always start with the coffee I’m going to use
Here are a few suggestions:
- if you are going to make a cocktail with your shaker, then use an espresso shot as it works better to shake while filter coffee works better for stirred ones;
- when making coffee-based cocktails remember that a washed coffee is ideal to mix when brewed as espresso while natural coffee goes better for filter-based ones. Also, start with washed coffee when making a cold cocktail and opt for a natural one when making a warm one;
- use high-quality ice cubes as a poor one is going to dilute your drink too faster make it watered down.
Saying that what I always try to achieve is to highlight the characteristic of the coffee used.
For example, if I used a coffee that tastes floral I try to highlight the floral notes with some floral spirits. If the coffee lack of sweetness I try to add it using sugar syrup and so on. At the very end, I add a small touch that is going to balance out the drink. For example, a touch of salt or maybe some citric acid to add acidity in the drink.
That’s my way to mix things, but you can also start the other way around.
Now, let’s talk about classic coffee cocktails recipes.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular:
1 – Irish coffee
There are different versions about the origin of the Irish Coffee. The more widespread one is the one attributed to a head chef called Joe Sheridan that added whisk(e)y over coffee and then served to some passengers of a plane that was flying to New York but had to turn back because of winter storms.
You just need four ingredients to make an Irish coffee: the whisk(e)y, the hot coffee, the fresh cream and a teaspoon of brown sugar.
It’s only about three steps:
- to start with you need to make hot coffee; I recommend do a filter coffee with a clever dripper which makes the perfect texture and it’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to make it;
- after pouring the filter coffee (9cl) into the glass over the whisk(e)y (4cl), add a teaspoon of brown sugar in it;
- shake the (double) cream and with the help of a teaspoon you can slowly float the cream over the back of a teaspoon to settle it down on top of the surface.
To make this drink you can play with the different whisk(e)y, coffee and double cream. Just keep in mind that the final texture made by the cream depends on the numbers of shaking you decide to go.
2 – White Russian
It’s an after-dinner cocktail born in 1949 by Gustave Tops, a Belgian barman so the cocktail has nothing to do with the Russian country. It’s been named due to the principal ingredient which is the vodka.
A White Russian is another coffee-based cocktail and that’s easy to make.
You will need just three ingredients: the vodka, the coffee liqueur and the fresh cream.
You have to:
- take an old-fashioned glass and fill it with glass;
- pour both the vodka (5cl) and the coffee liqueur (2cl) into the glass and stir them;
- float the cream on top of the surface and stir gently.
To make this drink you can use milk or a mixture of milk and cream as an alternative to cream.
3 – Espresso Martini
A coffee cocktail and another drink that is part of the after-dinner cocktail category. The Espresso Martini has been made for the first time in Soho, London where it was first named “Vodka Espresso”. It was in 1983 when Dick Bradsell created this drink at the Soho Brasserie. It then turned into “Espresso Martini” as any cocktail served in a V-shaped glass was named with the suffix – martini.
For this drink, you will need 5 cl of vodka, 1 cl of coffee liqueur, sugar syrup and a shot of espresso.
The drink is easy to make. You just need to:
- put all the ingredients in a shaker;
- fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously to obtain a frothy texture;
- double strain into a chilled martini glass.
Garnish is optional. The most common one is to garnish the drink with three coffee beans which represent health, wealth and happiness.
As I said before, making a cocktail is funny and doesn’t mean that you need to be a bartender or barista. Simply follow some recipes or just use your imagination. Coffee and alcohol (spirits and liqueur) mix well and so they offer you endless options to play with. Just do not use too much booze (you don’t want any overpowering part): you want to highlight everything from your recipe. To do that, you need to have a clear idea of the ingredients that you are going to use. If you are using a delicate and floral washed coffee you would rather combine it with gin or pisco (to name a few). In the case of a heavier and intense coffee, you would go for rum or whisk(e)y.
Please remember: try to understand (and taste) how spirits and coffee react when mixed so you can have a clearer idea on why that recipe has been made with those ingredients.
Sooner or later you are going to make your recipe!
I am an Italian coffee lover that pushed for the love of this “amazing drug” decided to come to London to study about coffee and its different extraction procedures and tastes.