I tried bartending once. It wasn’t all that bad, but it just wasn’t for me. I did learn how to make a few mean cocktails, but what I most remember is that I really loved using coffee liqueur.
Coffee liqueur is just special. Pleasantly bitter, decadently sweet and enticingly aromatic, like coffee, but better, because it’s boozy.
I do remember that store-bought coffee liqueurs were missing something, a soul, an identity. In the middle of the craft cocktail revolution, it felt natural to make my own. Everyone was doing crazy stuff with all sorts of ingredients, and I decided coffee liqueur would be my thing.
After many experiments and endless trial-and-error, I ended up with a coffee liqueur I liked, and today I’ll break it down for you.
To make coffee liqueur, of course, you need coffee. I’ve heard about people using instant coffee for this one, but why not make good use of the fabulous coffee we have available today?
I’ve experimented with espresso and drip coffee, but the finest results came from using a strong cold brew. Cold brew coffee is fruitier and more complex than other types of coffee, so I figured it become a tasty and sophisticated liqueur. I was right.
A cup of freshly ground, medium roast coffee macerated in two cups of water overnight will do the trick. Strain it with a cheesecloth before using it.
Then we have the spirit because alcohol is the most important part of any liqueur. I stuck with the Caribbean feel that permeates coffee liqueur and went with rum.
Any rum will do, but the best you can use is aged rum because it has caramel notes and hints of smoke that complement coffee beautifully.
And why not? You must add vanilla, and a real vanilla bean is hard to beat. You can use vanilla extract if you want, it’s tasty too!
For starters, a delicious Espresso Martini with an added shot of espresso and vodka, shake it for a frothy head. Then we have the famous White Russian with vodka and half & half. This classic cocktail is back in full force. Finally, the layered B-52 shot with Irish cream and Grand Marnier, it’s a bomb!
Now I’m sure you’re thirsty, so let’s make some coffee liqueur!
In a saucepan boil the water and add the sugar until completely dissolved.
Remove from heat and add the vanilla bean pulp. Stir until fully incorporated.
Allow your sugar simple syrup to cool down and mix with the cold brew coffee and the rum.
Mix well and bottle. Chill before serving.