Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

The Buzz on Coffee Cocktails Leverage these boozy drinks that include a delicious wake-up call

Coffee is becoming a bartender’s go-to for signature cocktails.

It’s not a surprise when two worlds boasting immense creativity meet, appreciate each other and decide to collide. Craft cocktails mashing together with coffee culture? Yes, please. And although Irish coffee was an early beacon of things to come, the opportunity here is limitless.

Driving interest here is a number of factors, including the brunch phenomenon. Brunch is the perfect venue for coffee and booze, extending the fun vibe while providing the expected caffeine jolt of that daypart.

Another driver is the mixologist, who is turning to coffee to provide a fantastic backbone to today’s bolder cocktail builds.

Here are three modern ways in to the perfect partnership of coffee and cocktail.

1. On the Spritz

Call it a coffee soda, call it a spritzer, either way, it’s refreshing and energizing, all in one drink. Its basic formula sees espresso or coffee mixed with seltzer or soda water, along with a bit of Grand Marnier, sherry, mezcal or whiskey. Add-ins help temper the bitterness (depending on which liquor you choose).

2. Tableside Jolt

With dining consumers falling head over heels for tableside-everything, it makes sense to combine coffee service with a bit of cocktail theatre. Serve Irish coffee tableside, featuring pour-over coffee, adding whiskey and water, with a side of whipped cream for dolloping. Or, try adding brandy to cinnamon-infused coffee, then set alight for a “Wow!”-worthy moment.

3. White Russian, Updated

The White Russian is a classic cocktail made with vodka, coffee liqueur and cream. Beverage directors are adding coffee into the build for a jolt of inspiration. Modern touches include cold-brew coffee, coffee bitters or a float of espresso.

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About The Author


Katie Ayoub is managing editor of Flavor & The Menu. She has been working in foodservice publishing for more than 16 years and on the Flavor team since 2006. She won a 2015 Folio award for her Flavor & The Menu article, Heritage Matters. In 2006, she won “Best Culinary Article” from the Cordon D’Or for an article on offal.