If they and when they come, coffee cocktails tend to happen at the end of a meal, with quite a bit less pomp than they deserve. We usually stick to the basic “coffee-plus-something,” be it whiskey, a liqueur, or some other naughty additive to balance out that java jolt. And while those classics have a well-earned place in our socializing hearts, the coffee cocktail could use a bit of a makeover.
And there’s a surprising number of ways to do it. Hot, of course, is traditional—but a lot of what we found are cooler recipes. And the coffee flavor spectrum isn’t limited to richer or darker ingredients, either (though those work, beautifully).
Even if you don’t have everything on hand to make a coffee cocktail recipe exactly, this selection should give you some inspiration next time you’re grinding some beans looking for more than caffeine.
The after dinner drink for an after-dinner that isn’t necessarily going to end right away. A hefty dose of cold brew coffee will fuel conversation while an equal amount of Averna amaro (a dark, richly complex Italian digestive) fuels general intrigue…
Anytime your espresso cools too quickly, this is exactly what you should do with it: add Frangelico, an Italian hazelnut liqueur, and vodka. Shake, strain, and stare out the window of your imagined Italian veranda.
We had to include this one only because the name is so grimly apt. Good news, the uppers and downers here are far more innocent: chilled coffee and white (as in unaged) whiskey. Coffee liqueur and heavy cream round out what turns out to be a pretty luxe White Russian variation.
Usually when you walk in on someone putting aged rum, hot coffee, beer, and syrup into a mug, you back slowly away (you’re outmatched). Stick around this time, since, put together, with a dose of heavy cream, those ingredients make a warm, belly-filling after dinner drink that’s rich with stout and swimming with dark rum complexity.
If you’re feeling your inner mixologist coming out, this one might be worth tackling. As close as any coffee cocktail has come to serious cocktail cred, scoring points not only with Cynar and reposado tequila, but a fresh egg white.
If you’ve never been to Philz Coffee, you might not know about the Mint Mojito Iced Coffee there (find a recipe online, make it at home, or fly to the Bay Area and get one). Long story short, it’s delicious, and mint and coffee work beautifully together, much to our humbled surprise and delight. This recipe recommends a Nespresso-based cold coffee solution, but any iced coffee will probably do just fine. Rum, mint, sugar, lime, coffee—yes, there is now a party in your mouth.