Once I decided to make cocktails revolving around coffee, the idea sort of terrified me. How do I take something that I love so much and holds so much meaning and add a bunch of stuff to it and still love it? I realized coffee needed to take the role of creating balance in the drink, punching down the sweetness while letting the spirits do their job. The difficult part was adding coffee flavor to things without having a spiked cup of coffee. We are all familiar with favorites that feature coffee flavor like the White Russian (I can’t drink one without wanting to watch The Big Lebowski or vice versa) and the cold weather favorite Irish Coffee. Cold brew seemed to make perfect sense for a cocktail, especially the more concentrated versions, that way instead of adding water, I could add my ingredients and still have that coffee favor. The first one was easy because it seemed to be a take on coffee and milk, just stir cold brew concentrate, egg nog and bourbon. Then I went for a coffee old-fashioned. I had made one a while back using some Dave’s coffee syrup I received as a gift, so I decided to make a homemade version of the coffee syrup (recipe below). Using the coffee syrup in place of the sugar in the old fashioned gave it the coffee flavor I was looking for.
Finally, I felt like I needed a fizzy drink, something a little more on the refreshing side. Iced coffee and orange always make a nice pair so I went back to the cold brew concentrate and decided a spoonful of orange marmalade shaken with a little vodka would do the trick. I topped that off with some club soda and a squeeze of fresh juice from an orange wedge. All of these cocktails subtly preserve what I love about coffee - the bold complexity and sometimes caramel like notes that tend to get lost in sweeter, heavier drinks. They are the perfect finish to a nice dinner in, sitting around the table or on the back deck chatting by the fire. I hope you enjoy them all.