Claudia Roden, in her classic book on coffee, describes the drink as a “fleeting moment and fragrance”. Such a poetic description, it made us think about how well coffee lends itself to cocktails and after dinner drinks; those small, perfect sips that bring warmth, a tingle or a refreshing kick. A splash of alcohol will impart a very sophisticated thrill to your coffee. So here are our five top coffee-based cocktail recipes that will bring sophistication and delight to your summer entertaining.
The classic Coffee Rumba is a very grown up affair, perfect for those long sultry, summer nights. Blend ¾ pint chilled coffee with half a pint of coffee ice cream (try making your own, Brown Bear Sweet Brazil would work well here). Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of rum and some sugar to taste. Serve immediately, dressed with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Try replacing rum with Angostura bitters for a slightly different twist.
Salted Caramel Liqueur
How about a shot of salted caramel liqueur, poured over ice and mixed with a shot of strong espresso (try Brown Bear Cub Espresso) for a sweet postscript to the summer dinner party? Dip the rim of the glass in a caramel sauce (like Dulce de Leche) and then into salt to intensify the sharp of contrast of sweet and salty. A bowl of pretzels would make a fine accompaniment.
Swish London eateries will charge the earth for this very modish drink, but it is incredibly easy to make at home. As ever, a great coffee bean will make the difference between just ‘good’ and ‘great’. A medium-bodied coffee like Brown Bear La Vida will add a lovely roast almond and toffee depth, adding a welcome complexity to an otherwise simple cocktail recipe. Mix 1 part Kahlúa, 1 part espresso and 2 parts vodka. Use a cocktail shaker to blend and strain into chilled martini glasses. Accompany with shards of glossy, dark chocolate and bowls of fresh berries for an indulgent but light summer desert.
Or why not try a fruity cocktail to bring out the fresh berry flavours of a coffee like Brown Bear Real Colombia? A Raspberry Mochatini would be just the thing, comprising 6 parts vodka, 4 parts coffee, 3 parts cacao liqueur and 3 parts raspberry liqueur. Simply add everything to an ice filled cocktail shaker, shake and strain into a chilled glass. Effortless, elegant and delicious.
The Classic Negrita
Brandy is often the traditional accompaniment to coffee after a formal dinner, and with good reason; the rich, complex flavours work well together. So a summer cocktail using coffee and brandy would be a great alternative when you want to complete an al fresco meal with something lighter. The classic Negrita cocktail recipe simply combines equal parts pisco (grape) brandy, coffee liqueur and cold espresso. Serve very simply in ungarnished shot glasses.
One Final Tip
Mixing coffee with other chilled liquids can sometimes result in a slightly diluted flavour, so to ensure that you lose none of that rich taste, make your coffee ahead of time and allow it to cool completely before mixing with the other ingredients. Choose a good quality coffee with a deep, complex taste (a more intense blend such as Brown Bear Mambo Italiano or New Latin would work well) and maybe add some coffee ice cubes to ensure that you retain the balance of flavours once you’ve mixed your cocktail. Then simply sit back and enjoy.