The nights are brighter when you mix coffee and spirits to make a coffee cocktail.
The complexity and pleasant bitterness of coffee makes it the perfect ingredient in cocktails, including some you never thought would work with coffee. Dark-roasted beans would be a great base in a granita but might overpower the more delicate flavors of a negroni, for instance. Here are three simple drinks that draw on coffee for its depth of flavor, plus they’re easy to make at home!
This classic cocktail is a perfect marriage of bitter, sweet, and citrus, and coffee gives it another layer of flavor explosion. Cold-brew concentrate* works great here, as a nice counterpart to the snappy Campari and sparkling orange spritz.
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce Campari
½ ounce cold-brew concentrate*
½ ounce club soda or seltzer
1" strip fresh orange peel
In your cocktail shaker, combine vermouth, Campari, and cold-brew concentrate with ice and shake vigorously to combine.
Strain and pour into glass over fresh ice cubes, and top with club soda or seltzer, stirring gently. Rub the orange peel along the rim of the glass and twist some of the juice from the peel into the drink. Serve.
Granita is an Italian dessert with a finely granulated slushy texture. Though you’ll find them in fruity flavors, coffee is a favorite rendition, and the addition of rum gives this treat a little extra kick. (Swap in whiskey and cut the cinnamon for a frozen version of Irish coffee!)
3 cups strong coffee, chilled (or you can use a 1:3 ratio of cold-brew concentrate* to water)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon plus more for garnish
5 ounces dark rum
Whipped cream (optional)
Mix cinnamon and sugar into coffee until the sugar dissolves, then stir in the rum.
Pour the mixture into a non-stick jelly roll pan or a flat baking sheet and place in the freezer to chill.
After an hour, when the mixture begins to look slushy, begin scraping it from the edges using a spatula.
Repeat every 30 minutes or so until the mixture is the desired texture. Using a spoon or spatula, scoop the granita into tumblers.
Top with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve with a straw or dessert spoon.
This punchy little after-dinner cocktail combines two classic Italian combinations: the affogato (a shot of espresso poured over vanilla gelato) and the espresso corretto, or an espresso that’s been “corrected” with liquor, traditionally sambuca (an Italian anise-flavoured liqueur) or grappa (an Italian grape brandy). Instead of the traditional hot espresso shot, we subbed in cold-brew concentrate for a cold variation.
1 ounce sambuca or grappa
1 small scoop vanilla gelato
1.5 ounce cold-brew concentrate*
In a glass or tumbler, pour sambuca or grappa and add the gelato on top.
Add cold-brew concentrate and swirl to combine. Sip slowly, as the gelato melts into the liquid base.
Erin Meister is a freelance writer for OXO. She is a specialty-coffee professional with 15-plus years as a barista, café manager, wholesale account representative, speaker, and educator; she currently sells green coffee for the Minneapolis-based importing company Café Imports. You can also hear her on weekly episodes of "Opposites Extract: A Debate Podcast about Coffee," available on iTunes.