Tag Archives: Coffee Liqueur

Spanish (Iced) Coffee: Mixology Monday LXX

I had this great idea for an inverted cocktail after reading the Mixology Monday announcement.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite the way I’d hoped, but I didn’t have to walk away empty handed.

Putney Farm, the gracious host of this month’s mxmologodecided to challenge everyone with inverting a classic cocktail or at least something to that effect.  Here’s what they said:

A while ago, while researching Julia Child’s recipes, we noticed that she was well-known for enjoying “upside-down” or “inverted” Martinis. This is a version of the classic cocktail that swaps the ratios of gin and vermouth, turning the Martini into something of a “long drink”… We wondered if we could apply the same “inverted” approach to Mixology Monday and, at first, didn’t think it would work. But then we asked ourselves, what does “inverted” really mean? Well, here is the definition, “To turn inside out or upside down; to reverse the position, order, or condition of.” Hmm…it appears that the definition is pretty broad. It seems that “inverted” really just means something “flipped on its head”. And that can mean almost anything, and leaves plenty of room for creativity… You can invert the ratios of spirits, liqueurs or bitters in a cocktail, but we suggest you go beyond that and “invert” whatever you want. Spirits, name, ingredients, proof, color, geography, garnish and glassware are all fair game.  An apéritif made with Navy-Strength booze? Give it a try. A beer-based cocktail that tastes like champagne? Sure. A clear Manhattan? Worth a shot (and good luck with that). The only thing we expect is the unexpected. Have fun.

The Booze

The Booze

I pondered it for a minute and then had the idea of inverting the Spanish Coffee recipe from Huber’s Café in Portland, OR.  I ran across this recipe on the Imbibe website while researching coffee cocktails.  I had been working on cold brewed coffee / tea in cocktails project recently (more on that in a future post.)  Remembering the Spanish Coffee, I decided I would swap out the hot brewed coffee with the cold brewed.  Since the cold brew is concentrated, I figured I could invert the amounts of coffee and rum.  Three ounces of rum is a fair bit and at 151 proof seemed dangerous.  Well, that wouldn’t really stop me, but I had a couple types of rum available in my arsenal, but not 151 so figured I would balance the increased volume with a lower proof spirit aka use what I had.  That and lighting it on fire should allow for a pleasant, but not overly boozy cocktail.  The fireworks, in blue blazer style, would serve several purposes – it would burn off excess alcohol, heat the cold brewed coffee, and be theatrical!  

Putting a Flame to Rum

Putting a Flame to Rum

I started the week before by brewing up some coffee liqueur.  This time, I started by cold brewing a nice medium roasted Guatemalan coffee.  Then, I made a simple syrup with Turbinado sugar.  Once the sugar was all dissolved in the water, I let it simmer for a bit before adding in the coffee concentrate.  Over lowish heat, I reduced the coffee and sugar syrup together by a third to a half careful not to boil or even vigorously simmer the liquid.  Just kept it steaming. Took about an hour.  When it had reached a consistency that I liked, I turned off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.  I then filtered it into a bottle through a fine mesh strainer, added the rum and half of a vanilla bean split lengthwise.  Gave it a little shake and refrigerated it for a week.  This liqueur turned out much better than the last time I made my own.  I do, however, have a few tweaks for next time, but this is not a coffee liqueur post, so, on with the cocktail!

It was all ready to go.  I cold brewed again, this time a natural processed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe bursting with dark berry and chocolate notes.  I had it in a mug with the coffee liqueur.  In the other mug was the 2.5 ounces of Pyrat rum.  The idea was to light the rum on fire and pour it into the coffee/liqueur mixture which would start to burn the rum in the liqueur.  Pour it all back into the other mug and then pour back and forth in a stream of blue flame a couple more times to mix and heat the drink.  Finally, pouring it all into a sugar rimmed glass swirling the burning liquid to lightly caramelize the sugar and then, douse with the curacao.

All Ready to Go

All Ready to Go

Didn’t happen.  Couldn’t get the 80 proof rum to ignite.  Go figure.  Okay well maybe if I added a half ounce of 100 proof Captain Morgan.  Nope.  Still no fire. Okay, okay… What if it was just the 100 proof?  Nothing.  Match after long match.  No fire.  A tiny blue flare up that disappeared before you even realized it happened, sure, but no stream of blueish flaming booze.  Not sure why, at this point.

Well, if it doesn’t want to light on fire, fine.  Spanish coffee is typically served hot so, I’ll invert that and serve it iced.  Take that, amazingly non-flammable alcohol.

Shaken not Flamin'

Shaken not Flamin’

Shaken together with ice those ingredients provided a delicious, frothy cocktail.  One which I would have no issue consuming…I just better not have much planned for the rest of the day.  It was a boozy concoction.   Almost went with that, but there was this nagging.  I knew it could be better.  What if I inverted the inversion?  Bring it back to the original ingredient quantities?  I gave it a go.  It was the weekend so why not.

Spanish (Iced) Coffee

1 ounce Rum (I used Pyrat)

1/2 ounce Curacao

2 ounces Coffee Liqueur

3 ounces Cold Brewed Coffee Concentrate (Nat. Ethiopian Yirgacheffee Gelana Abaya)

Fresh grated Nutmeg for garnish

Sugar Rim

Sugar Rim

Shake, with some vigor, the above ingredients together with ice.  Strain into a small snifter glass, run the rim with a bit of lemon and sugar it.

This was better.  This was good.  Less boozy and the coffee came through more.  The shaking helped to create this foaming action that cascaded just like a Guinness.  Much better suited to a breakfast cocktail.



Garnish with freshly grated Nutmeg.

Garnishing with Nutmeg

Garnishing with Nutmeg

So that’s my Spanish Coffee inverted to become a Spanish Iced Coffee.  Not too shabby.

Spanish Iced Coffee

Spanish Iced Coffee


The Revolver

I ran across this drink while trying to figure out what to do with my newly created coffee liqueur.

The Revolver was created by Jon Santer of Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco.  The next time I happen to be in San Fran, I will definitely be stopping in.  I’m not exactly sure how the drink came about, the inspiration behind it and what not, but if you’re out there Jon, would you care to comment?  Otherwise I shall be forced to come up with an outlandish story…

The recommendation is to use a rye-heavy bourbon such as Bulleit, Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare.  Honestly, I think, any bourbon would probably work, but the rye edge gives the drink it’s spicier character which balances the rich sweetness of the liqueur and helps to bring out the earthy coffee tones.  You could use Tia Maria (that’s what Jon used) or other coffee liqueurs, if you did not make your own.  For the bitters, I used Scrappy’s Orange Bitters which have a bright, sharp zip to them.  Fee Bros would be a second choice.  Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6 would work, too, but  think the fresh orange quality of those other bitters helps tie the drink together more so than the spicier Regan’s would.

The Revolver

2 ounces Bourbon

1/2 ounce Coffee Liqueur

2 dashes Orange Bitters

Combine with ice in a mixing glass and stir, about 40 revolutions.

Strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with an orange peel, flaming optional.

(How to Flame a Citrus Peel coming soon…)

I tried one version of the Revolver with a flamed orange peel and one without.  The caramelized sugars of the peel brought out the creamy caramel notes in the liqueur and bourbon which nicely smoothed and rounded the flavors.

The ashiness of the coffee liqueur still came through (see coffee liqueur #1).  It wasn’t undrinkable or anything, but I felt that it took away from the sweet balance in the drink.  A round 2 with the coffee liqueur is going to happen.  And soon.

To compensate for the ashy liqueur I made:

The Revolver 2.o

2 oz Bourbon

1/2 oz Coffee Liqueur

1/2 tsp Sweet Vermouth (Noilly Prat)

3 dashes Orange Bitters

2 Orange Peels

One of those orange peels was added to the mixing glass along with the vermouth and bitters.  I gave it a light muddle, to press out the oils, not to pulverize.

Then added the bourbon and coffee liqueur, filled with ice and stirred.  Strained out into a cocktail glass and garnish with the other orange peel, which got a little flame treatment as well.

The goal here was to better utilize the coffee liqueur I made by boosting the sweetness and the orange-y essence.  Taking a note from one of my favorite cocktails, the Manhattan, I felt the vermouth would provide enough sweetness while contributing to the overall complexity of the drink.  It is a small enough addition to almost fly under the radar, but large enough to move the drink in the direction I wanted it to go.

The muddled orange peel and additional dash of bitters were enough to successfully connect with the hint of orange peel in the liqueur and to really make the aromatics pop.

I think succeeded in making the other elements of the drink more diverting and only, lightly masking the ashy finish. There was an awkward bitterness in the finish, not ashy, but distracting.  Still not quite there.

24 hours later – I made both of these drinks again, just for the photos…  This time we liked the first rendition of the Revolver better.  The ashy quality from the night before was more subdued.  Not really sure why.  The first time through we used Bulleit and this second time we used Eagle Rare.  That might have made the difference.  I also did a better job on flaming the peels.  On version 2.0, that odd bitterness was still there like a sore thumb.  We found it more unpleasant then the new, less ashy version of 1.0.

Let’s revisit this when the new coffee liqueur is ready.

A Bit Ashy aka Coffee Liqueur #1

We read a recipe in Imbibe Magazine (Issue 33 Sept/Oct 2011) about making your own coffee liqueur and we were itching to try it.  Here is what we did, with a slight variation:

750ml of Aged Cachaca (we used Ypioca Cachaca Empalhada Ouro)

375ml of Spiced Rum (Captain Morgan 100 Proof Spiced Rum)

1/2 cup Water

6 oz Coffee, Coarsely Ground (we used a full city+ roasted Sumatran)

Peel of one Orange

Peel of half a Lemon

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 1/4 cup Turbinado Sugar

You will need a jar or container with a lid that can comfortably hold all of the coffee,  the booze, and the water.  Since this is basically cold brewed coffee, it occurred to me that the glass decanter from my Toddy would be the perfect size to hold it all.

Combine everything except the sugar in the glass jar, cover and let steep for at least 24 hours.  Giving the jar a shake whenever you think about it.  I ended up letting this infuse for 48 hours because I didn’t get around to it the day before.

Next you’ll want to strain out all the bits.

I lined a canning funnel with a Chemex coffee filter and poured the liqueur through into a Mason jar, trying my best to keep as much of the coffee as I could in the jar.  This took awhile, but it worked.  In the future I think I will purchase some cheaper more porous filters and see if it speeds up this process any.

Now pour the stained liquid into a medium saucepan, turn the heat to medium and bring the liquid to a simmer.  Be careful not to boil it or you risk losing some of the kick as well as denaturing the flavor of the coffee.  Turn the heat down and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.  You are looking to reduce the liquid by a quarter or so.

Remove from the heat.  Add in the sugar and stir it around to completely dissolve.  Let this cool to room temperature.  Then strain it again into a clean mason jar.  I skipped that step.

The resulting coffee liqueur will keep refrigerated for up to a month.

Now for the part where we taste it and consider what to do differently next time.  This is a heady, full flavored cordial.  Not as sweet as Kahlua, but still with a nice syrupy quality.  The initial flavor is nicely coffee sweet with noticeable fortification from the cachaca.  The peels come through mid taste contributing a refreshing, light citrus complexity.  I think next time I will leave out the lemon and just use the orange peel to get a cleaner orange flavor, then we’ll see how much the lemon added.  Also, I will use a split vanilla bean rather than extract.  The vanilla flavor was pretty subtle, noticeable, but subtle.  Not sure I really want to change that level of vanilla per se, but maybe the quality of it.  I think the bean would contribute a more “authentic” vanilla flavor.

The overall flavor of the liqueur was pretty good.  It was the finish that I really didn’t care for.  It was too ashy and harsh, similar to the sensation of just having smoked a cigar.  For common cocktail use, it got in the way and just wasn’t pleasant.  Why the ashy harshness?

I have two thoughts:

A)  I let the coffee steep too long.  I will try to be ready to proceed after the 24 hours next time.  That should help with the over-extraction issue which most likely added some bitter harshness.

B)  Coffee selection.  Admittedly, the Sumatran coffee is on the darker end of the spectrum.  It is kind of an earthy coffee anyway and I think, with the added roast flavor, it just got ashy.  So on round 2, I’ll go with something in the medium roast level.  Sumatran coffee could still be a good option, but I’ll have to roast it lighter next time.  I will probably use a different coffee.

C)  The cachaca was a decent option.  The spiced rum might have had a bit too much kick.  Maybe a “regular” strength spirit would temper the alcohol heat to a less burn-your-nose-hairs level.  I think I’ll try bourbon next time because I really like bourbon and in my head it seems like a natural fit.  Maybe a coffee with a peachy, stone fruit quality, since bourbon and peaches go so well together…  Kenya? Ooooo, this is going to be good.

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