Coffee Drinks with Liquor
snowpocalypse blizzard snowflake reminded us that Old Man Winter isn't quite done with us yet. We have several more weeks of cold weather ahead of us, regardless of what the groundhog says in a few days' time. If you need to thaw out and you're finding that your favorite coffee needs just a little something extra to do the trick, here are a few recipes to help your coffee make you feel extra warm and toasty. As always, let's start with the coffee. I'd suggest starting with a medium or dark roast and a more assertive brewing method (espresso, Aeropress or French Press) instead of a light roast and/or a drip or pourover. Here's why: since many coffee drinks that involve alcohol use liqueurs, which have a higher sugar content, and since blending liquors tends to bring the sweetness to the forefront, it helps to have a touch of bitterness, since a lighter roast often isn't assertive enough to offset the sweetness. With that being said I'll concede that this is a matter of personal taste, so if you just can't stomach a dark roast, feel free to try something lighter. This is also an instance where decaf isn't a bad idea; for one thing, the bitterness is less of a liability here than if you were drinking it straight (see above), and for another, you won't have caffeine competing with the alcohol, which is no small consideration if you're making one of these drinks as a nightcap. Let's start off with a traditional favorite, the Irish
Coffee: One shot Irish whiskey* 2 tsps of brown sugar Freshly brewed coffee Fresh, cold whipping cream Preheat a traditional coffee mug or Irish coffee glass with hot water. Brew coffee. Whip cream until thick but still pourable. Dump hot water and add whiskey to glass. Add coffee and sugar. Float gently whipped cream on top. This recipe's taken from askmen.com, and brings to mind one small piece of advice: you'll notice that this recipe, and some others online, call for brown sugar instead of white sugar or simple syrup. Use the brown sugar if you have it (preferably the dark brown, though light brown will also work). It adds a bit of depth to the overall flavor that tends to be lost when you use table sugar. Another surefire hit is Jamaican Coffee.
You'll need: One shot of rum** One shot of Tia Maria** Coffee Whipping Cream While your coffee's brewing, mix one shot of dark rum** with one shot of Tia Maria***. Blend with the coffee once it's finished brewing, and top with gently whipped cream. If you're feeling particularly fancy, you can garnish the drink with a chocolate-covered espresso bean. I'll close with a personal favorite, a variation on the Nutty Monk: Start with the alcohol. You'll want equal parts Irish whiskey,* Bailey's, and Frangelico. Next, brew your coffee. While your water's boiling and your coffee is doing its thing, make some hot chocolate (more on that below). Add cream, half-and-half or milk to taste, if you'd like. Blend and enjoy. The advantage to this one is that you can easily leave out the alcohol and still have a perfectly tasty drink. In fact, if you're leaving out the booze, the combination of chocolate and coffee is probably better suited to a morning wake-up call than a nightcap, for obvious reasons. The key to this one is using the right hot chocolate. Starting with plain cocoa and adding heated milk and sugar to taste works well (remember, the liquors will add sugar and sweetness, so it helps to be able to tone down the sugar in the hot chocolate). If you'd prefer to go the store-bought route, I recommend Godiva Dark Chocolate hot cocoa mix for its slightly lower sugar content and better taste. Garnish with shaved dark (minimum 70% cacao) chocolate.
Thoughts in Closing Don't be afraid to experiment (within reason), especially if you see a liquor you particularly like not represented here, or if you have to substitute ingredients out of necessity. And whatever you do, just remember to enjoy responsibly. That means no drinking and driving, plowing, mushing or sledding. Those are just a few of our favorites. But what about you? Do you have a favorite "spiked" coffee drink that we've forgotten? Pipe up and let us know! *Two notes on the whiskey: One: Jameson or Paddy's are particularly good. Always start with quality, especially since you don't want to profane a good coffee with cheap rotgut (and vice versa). Two, while you could start with Scotch, the flavor profile of your better Scotch whiskys doesn't always blend well with coffee -- unless you like your coffee to have notes of peat, in which case, pour away. **A dark rum -- if you can find it, I'd recommend the slightly pricey but ridiculously smooth Don Q Gran Añejo -- is vastly preferable here to light or white rum. ***This is a matter of personal preference; the Tia Maria has a less aggressive nose, smoother taste, and less pronounced burn than Kahlua. You could, however, use any coffee liqueur you happen to have handy.