While it's true that most cocktails that incorporate coffee in them seem to be passe', it doesn't mean we can't still enjoy drinking them. There are a ton of recipes out there just waiting to be re-discovered and re-interpreted. Take the Irish Coffee, for example. Probably one of, if not the most popular coffee concoctions out there, the Irish Coffee is a fine choice for anyone wanting to beat old man winter till he's blue in the face. No pun intended. The sweet, nutty notes and hints of vanilla are a perfect pairing with some fresh, hot Colombian goodness. The Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco is where the classic coffee concoction became famous. This cafe reportedly cranked out some 30 million before it's novelty wore out and it became just another drink consumed by "amateurs" in the lower hierarchy of cocktails for beginners. Like most tossed away drinks, when done right, it is simply delicious. The key is to make sure to use a glass that is no bigger than 8 oz. Too often most bars use 10 oz or larger glasses, especially snifters, and you end up drowning the flavors of the whiskey. I like to use the caffè americano version, as seen here.
2 oz Jameson Irish Whiskey
2 tsp Brown Sugar
1-1/2 oz Espresso (basically a shot)
Hot Water (you could simply use 5 to 6 oz quality hot coffee and no espresso or water)
Heavy Cream, Loosley whipped for Garnish
Fresh Mint for Garnish
Pour some very hot water in a cocktail coffee mug or snifter to heat up, discard water. Add whiskey, sugar and hot espresso to the mug, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add in hot water and fill, leaving about a half inch or so from top, and stir to combine. Place loose whipped heavy cream in a squeeze bottle and shake a bit. Carefully float cream on top (about 3/4 oz or so). Garnish with mint and enjoy.
Instant Coffee. Not something most connoisseurs would think about when it comes to consuming quality ingredients. However, it does make a fine cordial that is key in many popular cocktails. The Spanish Coffee, White Russian and Black Russian are few famous examples. But why pay 19 bucks for Kahlua when you can make your own that tastes better and is half the price? Exactly.
Home Made Coffee Cordial
4 cups Water
3 cups Vodka (Smirnoff is a fine choice)
3 cups Superfine Sugar
1 cup Brandy (Christian Brothers is a fine choice)
1 cup Light Brown Sugar
3/4 cups Instant Coffee
2 Tbs Madagascar Vanilla Extract
12 Coffee Beans
Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and add coffee, mix well till dissolved. Allow to cool and pour into a large container with remaining ingredients. Cover and set in a cool dark place for about 2 weeks. Fine strain and store till needed.
Keeping with the classic winter warmer theme for coffee, I decided to try something that I normally don't use...tequila. Or more precisely, mezcal. But for some reason I really kept thinking about Mexican hot chocolate and coffee so I had to imagine what a local in Oaxaca would drink during a cold winter evening (wait, do they even have winters???), or at least what one of the locals would crave on a cold Washington winter night.
A Winter Night in Oaxaca
1/2 oz Sombra Mezcal
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
3/4 oz Home Made Coffee Cordial (or your favorite commercial brand)
1 oz Mexican Chocolate, Shaved
4 oz Milk, Steamed
1 oz Brewed Espresso
Freshly Grated Nutmeg for Garnish
Expressed Orange Twist for Garnish
In a tempered mug drop in chocolate. Add hot espresso and stir to melt and combine chocolate. Add liquor, stir, and pour in steamed milk. Garnish with grated nutmeg and orange twist. Enjoy.
I was downtown the other day and I passed Von's and starting thinking about how they are the proclaimed "martini" bar in Seattle, and yes, it's a verrrryyy loose term but heck, we have a Pear "Martini" at the restaurant. But we know it's just a familiar term for anything in a cocktail martini glass. Besides, if the term "martini" can be used loosley by master mixologist Dale DeGroff, it's good enough for me. Anyway, it got me thinking about making an espresso cocktail, with a barista flare. So here, a "martini" without it's namesake. FYI, this version is courtesy of my bartender, Drew Braithwaite.
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
White Chocolate Caramel Foam for Garnish
Combine ingredients in a shaker tin with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with foam and enjoy.
I've hope you've become inspired to re-discover the joys of a hot, winter warmer. If not, fine, just toss the coffee nonsense and drink the booze.