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Recipe: A rum and coffee cocktail to sip on this fall season

Recipe: A rum and coffee cocktail to sip on this fall season

"Let’s grab our tools, shake some things up, and raise a glass to the upside of down."

Join us Thursday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. for’s Cocktail Club with host Jackson Cannon and BarNoirBoston founder Kyisha Davenport for coffee and rum cocktails. Dmitry Dreyer on Unsplash

October 27, 2021

Coffee is always associated with great memories for me. I think of my late grandma Carol, who I always think of sitting at the edge of her bed. As a kid, running to the store for her was an honor. In the mornings, it was my job to secure the winning trio to start her day: The Daily News, a coffee cake or Table Talk pie, and that famous New York City blue and white cup of coffee — light, two sugars.

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My mom is much the same; Maxwell House was always in stock at home for her cup — light and sweet — and when the inevitable Keurig upgrade came along, my parents were so serious about their java that when my mom’s wedding rings accidentally fell into the Keurig at home, they waited until a new one arrived before breaking the old one apart to retrieve them. When I think of coffee, I think of growing up to be like the women I adored; by the time I got to an age where I’d drink a cup or two a day, I understood that adulting was much more than “the best part of waking up.”

So, alcohol! You know, balance (kidding)! While writing this (yes, over a cup), I felt inspired to grab my old pack of index cards from when I first started bartending twelve years ago. Though back then we apparently really loved putting Southern Comfort in everything, and any “rum punch” was just whatever rum you had on hand plus cranberry, orange, and pineapple juice — we also really loved coffee cocktails. Countless combos of Kahlúa, amaretto, creme de cacao and Baileys are scrawled on color coded cards, each with increasingly suggestive cocktail names as you add new ingredients.

Including the espresso martini, these days bars across the globe have been enjoying the process of recovering recipes from the 90s, 80s, and beyond, reviving them with fresh juices, locally distilled spirits and liqueurs, and for heaven’s sake, storing vermouth in the fridge. Coffee and rum cocktails were delicious then, if not a little misguided; the premise of something that could both pick you up and mellow you out in a glass is a story I’d love to drink, and is my inspiration for the upside of down.

Using a similar cold brew concentrate recipe as Jackson Cannon’saperol spritzes, that definitely includes brunch — a perfectly caffeinated kick without the heft of most coffee cocktails.

In a COVID-colored world, we’re certainly struggling with unlearning behaviors of value tied to productivity, while trying to embrace relaxation and new ways of self and community care. Perhaps that’s always been the definition of finding work-life balance, yet it carries a bit more insistence lately, and certainly requires us to find ways to be thankful. And to that, I’m with you — let’s grab our tools, shake some things up, and raise a glass to the upside of down.

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What you’ll need

The Upside of Down


¾ oz. demerara coffee syrup or sweetened cold brew concentrate*

½ oz. fresh lime juice

¼ oz. Angostura bitters

Optional garnish: flower (doesn’t need to be edible!) and lime zest


Chill a Nick and Nora or coupe glass. Build all ingredients in cocktail shaker. Fill short shaker with ice and shake drink well, about 15-20 seconds. Using a Hawthorne coil and tea strainer to filter out ice chips, strain cocktail into glass. Garnish with flower, zesting lime peel from juiced lime shell over the flower.

*For demerara coffee syrup: you may use the same recommended recipe for sweetened cold brew concentrate, swapping out simple syrup for a 1:1 demerara syrup.

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Coffee cocktails

Coffee cocktails image 1

In 1947, an American journalist, Stanton Delaphane visited the bar at Ireland’s Shannon Airport where the bartender made him an Irish Coffee. Stan was so impressed that on returning home he passed the recipe onto the bartender at his local bar, the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco. So the popularity of the best-known coffee cocktail or ‘liqueur coffee’ was assured. But what about the others.

No restaurant dinning experience or dinner party is complete without freshly brewed coffee followed by a glass of liqueur or spirit. At its simplest coffee cocktails combine these two drinks. In its more complex form coffee cocktails combine coffee’s bitterness and a liqueur’s sweetness to create a balanced drink. In the same way that the liqueur counteracts the bitterness of the coffee, the coffee’s stimulant properties counteract the effects of the alcohol.

12 best coffee cocktails

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Affogato Cocktail

With: Grappa, coffee liqueur, dark crème de cacao, espresso coffee and vanilla ice-cream.
We say: An indulgent cocktail based on the Italian dessert of the same name.
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Bonaparte Cocktail

With: Soda water, espresso coffee and Mandarin Napoleon liqueur.
We say: Zesty orange coffee served in a tall refreshing cocktail.
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Coffee Coolatta

With: Bourbon, coffee liqueur, lemon juice, pineapple juice and cold brew coffee.
We say: Bourbon laced coffee with a white tea and coconut foam.
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Espresso Martini

With: Vodka, espresso coffee, coffee liqueur and sugar syrup.
We say: Perhaps the best and most popular cocktail of the modern era. So much so that it has inspired many of the other cocktails on this page.
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Flying Frenchman

With: Absinthe, coffee liqueur and espresso coffee.
We say: A surprisingly tasty three equal parts Absinthe Espresso Martini.
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Grappa Espresso Martini

With: Aged grappa, coffee liqueur, espresso coffee and sugar syrup.
We say: Italians, and those of us in the know, have a splash of grappa with their morning espresso — the flavours combine brilliantly. The same can be said for this grappa based riff on the contemporary classic.
ency 74 image

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With: Vodka, crème de noisette, coffee liqueur, espresso coffee, cream and milk.
We say: Creamy and caffeine laced — think flat white.
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Irish Coffee

With: Irish whiskey, demerara sugar syrup, filter coffee and cream.
We say: Made well this is one of the very best cocktails and like so many seemingly simple cocktails, it’s easy to get wrong.
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Irish Coffee Cocktail

With: Irish whiskey, espresso coffee, demerara sugar syrup and single cream.
We say: Like the drink above, only served short and chilled in a Martini glass.
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Jalisco Espresso

With: Reposado tequila, espresso coffee and coffee liqueur.
We say: A tequila Espresso Martini.
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Mocha Martini

With: Bourbon, espresso coffee, Irish cream liqueur, brown crème de cacao and cream.
We say: A bourbon laced chocolate flavoured iced flat white.
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With: Light rum, Fernet Branca, chocolate cream liqueur, espresso coffee and caster sugar.
We say: A Legacy winning minty mocha rum espresso.

Coffee Roasters Weigh in with Their Favorite Non-Alcoholic Coffee Cocktails

Cocktails don’t have to be boozy (OK, technically cocktails do, but we’re living in the exciting time of mocktails). Cocktails are catching on with coffee roasters, and while they do often mix in the booze, non-alcoholic mixtures can be a tasty treat on a rough Monday morning.

We chatted with several roasters from across the country to get their favorite non-alcoholic coffee cocktails. We also added one boozy Irish coffee recipe because St. Patrick’s Day is already right around the corner.

La Colombe Coffee Shandy

La Colombe Coffee Shandy Cocktail Recipe

La Colombe’s canned Draft Lattes can be found across the country and are a convenient and tasty sip on their own. The company, however, likes to experiment with recipes and often posts cocktails to its own blog. A simple recipe is to pull out a Black and Tan with La Colombe Pure Black and Draft Latte. They get a little frisky sometimes, too, like with this first one — a cold brew lemonade shandy. “Don’t knock it ’til you try it,” they warn. It’s simple too!

  • .5 can Pure Black La Colombe Coffee
  • .5 cup lemonade

Method: Pour into glass with ice, mi, and serve.

Ferris Coffee & Nut

Ferris Coffee and Nut Cocktail Recipe

Ferris Coffee & Nut has roasted coffee for more than a century and supplies plenty of breweries with coffee, so we know they like alcohol. The company’s cafes in Michigan play with coffee drinks and non-alcoholic cocktails pretty regularly and they use crazy ingredients, like Coca-Cola, tart cherry juice, green apple, and red grape juice.

  • 1 shot espresso
  • 2 oz red grape juice
  • 2 oz tonic water
  • 1 small bar of dark chocolate

Method: Pull shot of espresso and add to a chocolate square in cocktail shaker along with grape juice. Shake. Strain into rocks or coupe and top off with tonic water. Garnish with speared grape.

Starbucks Orange Coffee Tonic

iced coffee glassBlake Wisz

Starbucks is a worldwide powerhouse when it comes to quick coffee and sugar-filled espresso drinks, but the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in New York City is upping the coffee cocktail game. The company’s Arriviamo Bar menu was conceived by mixologist Julia Momose, who helped create a menu of cocktails and “spirit-frees” made with coffee and tea.

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While they’re experimenting like mad, Starbucks wasn’t sharing the specific measurements of their cocktails. They shared the ingredients and they’re certainly a fun selection, so experiment and use that cocktail mixing brain. (If you need a recipe, we added what we believe would be good amounts below.)

  • 3.5 oz Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic
  • 2.5 oz Starbucks Reserve Cold Brew
  • 1 oz Teavana Ayurvedic Chai
  • .75 oz lemon-orange cordial

Method: Starbucks was able to list ingredients but didn’t give exact instructions, so go wild! If you’re following our instructions, combine cold brew chai, and cordial with ice and shake. Strain into a glass with ice and top with tonic.

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee Mug

As we approach St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 — a great day to whip out Irish whiskeys and stouts — a coffee cocktail list wouldn’t be complete without a simple Irish coffee. “The Irish Coffee is a perfectly balanced drink,” said Tim Herlihy, national ambassador for Tullamore D.E.W. “This hot, sweetened and spiked cocktail is topped with a layer of chilled, rich, velvety cream which the piping hot coffee punches through for a blend of flavors, temperature, and textures — the perfect winter warmer. Tullamore D.E.W.’s blend of Irish whiskey grain for sweetness, malt for fruit notes, and pot still for added spice and creamy mouthfeel means it’s a perfect whiskey for an Irish coffee.”

  • 1.5 parts Tullamore D.E.W.
  • 1.5 parts strongly brewed coffee
  • .5 part sugar
  • Lightly whipped heavy cream
  • Cinnamon or nutmeg

Method: Preheat a clear-stemmed glass with very hot water. Add the sugar and brewed coffee and stir well. Once the sugar has melted, stir in the Irish whiskey . Gently whip the heavy cream by shaking it in a protein shaker with a blender ball – you want a still somewhat loose, not stiff consistency. Pour the cream over the back of a hot teaspoon to top the drink (and prevent cream from penetrating the top of the drink). Finally, garnish with grated nutmeg or cinnamon for spicy finish.

Wake Up Your Whiskey with this Delicious Coffee Manhattan

cocktail in glass with orange twist and coffee beans

Coffee’s a perfect match with whiskey and this Coffee Manhattan is no exception. Whether you’re building an Irish coffee to enjoy or adding a little coffee syrup to an old fashioned (see my Breakfast Old Fashioned here) it’s a combination made in heaven.

(Post may contain affiliate links.)

What is a Manhattan?

A traditional Manhattan Cocktail has just three ingredients – whiskey, bitters and vermouth. While bourbon is more common in Manhattans, it’s now thought that the original Manhattan cocktails likely used rye whiskey instead of bourbon.

The ratio of whiskey to vermouth ranges from 2:1 whiskey to vermouth to 5:1 whiskey to vermouth. Bourbon and whiskey lovers will likely fight you to the death if you start proposing that your version of a Manhattan is the right one.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I want you to make cocktails that taste good to you. So feel free to tweak ratios on the cocktail’s elements or add additional flavors as needed to get the drink to a place that you enjoy.

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I’ve done a number of articles on Manhattans:

If you’ve just jumped in in the middle, each week I’m doing a series of riffs on a classic whiskey cocktail. This week is the Manhattan, and I’ve already got a French Quarter Manhattan and a Chocolate-Ginger Manhattan up.

Flavors in this Coffee Manhattan Cocktail

A classic Manhattan uses sweet vermouth, but this recipe substitutes coffee liqueur and some coffee to bolster the coffee flavors. In addition I use some coffee and chocolate bitters to round out the flavors.

The coffee liqueur I’ll use for this is Patron’s XO Cafe coffee-flavored liqueur. It’s rich, sweet and bitter coffee flavors are decadent enough that you don’t need a lot of it to punch up the flavor in a cocktail. In addition, I added a smidge of actual cold brew coffee I had on hand.

cocktail in glass with orange zest and coffee beans

I attempted the cocktail without the sweet vermouth and with only the coffee liqueurs, but that tiny bit of vermouth did two things. First, it added just a touch of the sourness from sweet vermouth itself and secondly, it thickened the mouthfeel a bit to something closer to a true Manhattan.

What Whiskey Should I Use for this Coffee Manhattan?

Now while I did try this with both bourbon and rye, and both work well, Rittenhouse rye won here as the standout. I think any rye will wok well here, but I would still with a proof around 100 if you have it so it doesn’t have to work so hard to compete with the bitter flavors of the coffee.

Best Bitters for this Coffee Cocktail

While I did add some coffee and cocoa bitters, this would work equally well with a plain angostura or chocolate bitters.

My favorite chocolate bitters for this one is The Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters. For coffee bitters, here’s one of my favorites as well: Cocktail Kingdom Coffee Bitters.

Coffee cocktails: alive and kicking!

Life is better when you can combine your favourite things. So why not mix coffee and cocktails? Coffee liqueur, cold coffee, espresso.. all are amazing to use in coffee cocktails. The Espresso Martini is probably one of the most famous coffee cocktails but it doesn't stop there! There's a whole world of coffee cocktails out there that will have you buzzing all night.

History of coffee cocktails

From the age-old image of a grumbled detective pouring some unidentifiable booze into his morning coffee to the first Irish coffees being prepared in the 1940's, coffee and cocktails have a long history as drinking companions. Mixology is all about finding the sweet spot of balance in a cocktail and coffee offers complexity and an incredibly wide range of flavours ideal to use in cocktails. Depending on the origin of coffee, how it was processed, roasted and prepared, it can be a powerful component of a mixed drink.

The Espresso Martini is perhaps the best and most popular coffee cocktail to emerge from the 1990s. It was created by Dick Bradsell in 1983 at the Soho brasserie in London. The story goes that a young supermodel asked for a drink to 'wake me up and f*ck me up'. The Espresso Martini, consisting of vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso did just that. It quickly became an icon and to this day remains the most popular coffee cocktail and a staple of after-dinner drinks worldwide.

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Espresso Martini recipe

30 ml Bols Vodka
30 ml G alliano Ristretto or Bols Coffee
30 ml espresso
10 ml sugar syrup

How to make an Espresso Martini

Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker add ice cubes and shake hard for at least 45 seconds.

Strain into a prechilled Martini glass or coupe.

Garnish with 3 coffee beans.

For a nutty variation on this recipe, why not switch the Galliano Ristretto or Bols Coffee for Bols Amaretto

Coffee mocktails:Caffė Shakerato & Spritzy Americano

If you prefer a coffee mocktail, you can try a very simple variation on the Espresso Martini: The Caffė Shakerato. In its simplest form, a Shakerato is made by combining freshly made espresso, simple syrup and shaking it vigorously with ice until a froth forms when poured. Usually served in a Martini glass or another stemmed glass.

To stay in the coffee mocktail category, why not try a Spritzy Americano? This coffee cocktail is straightforward, refreshing, lively with a bittersweet finish. Simply mix equal parts espresso and fresh orange juice with double the amount of soda water.

Irish Coffee

The Irish Coffee was first created in the 1940's by Joe Sheridan who worked in the harbor of the Irish village of Foynes. He prepared a round of drinks with hot coffee, a dash of Irish whiskey, sugar and lightly whipped cream for a group of chilly Americans who just stepped off a Pan AM flying boat. On a cold, miserable rainy day, there are few things as comforting as an Irish coffee. This coffee cocktail remains an all-time favourite and has given us many variations of the original recipe. Two chilled variations of the Irish coffee include:

The Dublin Iced Coffee: equal amounts of strong cold brew coffee and stout are mixed with Irish whiskey and simple syrup in a long drink glass with ice. Lightly whipped cream are gently poured in and topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

The Blind Abbot: mix Irish whiskey, chilled freshly brewed coffee, Galliano Ristretto, cinnamon syrup and a few dashes Angostura bitters with ice. Strain into an Irish coffee glass and top with whipped cream and cinnamon.

Vintage coffee cocktails: Black & White Russian

Another true vintage coffee cocktail is the Black (or White) Russian. The Black Russian was created in 1949 by Gustave Tops, a bartender at the Metropolitan hotel in Brussels. The drink, consisting of equal parts vodka and coffee liqueur was prepared for Perle Mesta, a rich American socialite famous for her lavish parties.

Around the 1960's the White Russian was born, simply by adding lightly whipped cream or milk to the Black Russian recipe. The White Russian was immortalized in 1998 when Jeff Bridges, playing the Dude in The Big Lebowski, gulped down 8 of them during the course of the movie. (He dropped a ninth on the floor).

So whether you're in the mood for summer coffee cocktails, a coffee mocktail or a boozy caffeine hit coffee cocktails are here to stay!

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