If you’re into coffee flavors, there are genuinely good coffee liqueurs out there.
Coffee liqueur—think Kahlua—was until recently quite standard in cocktails, the kind of back-bar staple you’d see in espresso martinis and Mudslides. In the craft cocktail world it’s not quite as common these days. But if you’re into coffee flavors, there are genuinely good coffee liqueurs out there, like Italy’s Caffè Borghetti, in production since 1860. Straightforward and not as sweet as its counterparts, it genuinely tastes like a boozy espresso shot when served neat—and brings a vibrant coffee flavor to cocktails. Here are three to try.
Easy: Coffee and Rye
Coffee liqueur doesn’t have to make cocktails sweet. Here we booze it up with a strong whiskey, 100-proof rye; the liqueur balances the spirit’s power, and the rye’s warmth is a great match for coffee.
Instructions: In a mi glass with ice, combine 2 ounces of 100-proof rye (we like Rittenhouse), an ounce of Caffè Borghetti, half an ounce of simple syrup, and 2 dashes Angostura bitters. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel, squeezed over the top to release its citrus oils.
Intermediate: Rum Toddy
Whereas white rums are great for mojitos and daiquiris, darker rums tend to be a touch sweeter with a rich barrel-aged flavor, notes of vanilla and toffee — a natural match for coffee liqueur. Served hot, it’s a winter warmer unlike any other.
Instructions: Add 1 1/2 ounces of dark rum (we like Mount Gay Black Barrel), 1 ounce Caffè Borghetti, half an ounce of simple syrup, and one dash of Angostura bitters to a heat-safe glass. Heat 2 ounces of water to a near-boil and pour into glass; stir briefly to combine. Stud an orange peel wedge with a few cloves and add to the glass. Add a piece of star anise and a cinnamon stick.
Advanced: White Russian
Okay, the White Russian is a little lowbrow, but made this way it’s delicious — a solid liqueur, plenty of vodka, and cream to bring it all together. Freshly grated nutmeg adds a fragrant touch.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 2 ounces of vodka, 1 ounce of Caffè Borghetti, half an ounce of simple syrup, half an ounce of half-and-half, and one dash Angostura bitters. Shake until well-chilled, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.