Coffee liqueur is a much-used ingredient in mixed drinks. It gives you that warm, awake feeling granted by coffee and combines with your other favorite liquid, alcohol. While it sees a lot of use in mixed drinks, a number of people like to have their coffee liqueur on the rocks.
Coffee liqueur is actually produced in a very simple way. You can even make it at home if you’d like. Most coffee liqueur has a sweet, syrupy taste, though you can find (or make) kinds that are quite different.
What are some of the best coffee liqueurs out there in 2021?
This is what most people think of when they think of coffee liqueur. It’s standard at most bars and easily recognizable with its Polynesian-style lettering and big brown bottle. Kahlua has a very notable sweet and syrupy taste, making it the archetypical coffee liqueur. Not everyone likes the sweetness of Kahlua, however, and would like something a bit more like black coffee.
If you like your coffee black, Firelit is the coffee liqueur for you. It was brewed to be served neat, but it also works well in a number of cocktails. It’s got a pretty high caffeine content, so it doesn’t make for the best nightcap. Firelit also makes the F-80 High Strength Coffee Liqueur, an 80-proof drink that is intense in every way. It’s meant for cocktails and it will definitely wake you up.
George NOLA Coffee Liqueur
Everything out of St. George’s distillery is wonderful and this spirit ranks right up near the top. It’s got a complex, luxurious taste, thanks to being brewed using an international blend of Ethiopian Arabica coffee beams chicory, and vanilla. It’s earthy yet sweet, with a more balanced taste than Kahlua.
This coffee liqueur is a bit wilder tasting, thanks to its bourbon base. It’s possibly even sweeter than Kahlua, with heavy notes of vanilla and cinnamon, but not in the same syrupy way. The terrier on the front of a bottle is a pretty good indication of the kind of personality you’re dealing with here. This one makes for a nice bit of sweetener to other drinks.
If none of these are to your taste, you can also make your own. The process is actually quite simple and safe. You won’t ever be able to mimic brands like Kahlua, but it will still be pretty good. You’ll also be able to add personal touches you otherwise won’t find in coffee liqueur.
Coffee Liqueur Recipe
- 1 C cold brew
- ½ C dark brown sugar
- ½ C water
- 1 C alcohol (rum, vodka, and bourbon are solid choices)
- 1 vanilla bean (or mix it up with ¼ tsp. of cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. of peppermint, 1/8 tsp. of hazelnut extract)
- Brew 1 cup of cold brew.
- Make a ½ cup of simple syrup. Heat the water and dissolve the brown sugar in it. Simple. Hence the name.
- Add the cold brew, simple syrup, and alcohol to a 1-quart pitcher.
- Add in your vanilla bean. Slice it in half, then scrape the seeds into the pitcher. The pod is trash. If you’ve opted to use another spice, dump it in at this time instead.
- Let the liqueur sit for two weeks and stir occasionally. After two weeks, you’ve got your own homemade coffee liqueur
Now that you’ve got your coffee liqueur, it’s time to start mixing some drinks!
This is the best-known drink using coffee liqueur. It is a sweet drink with a strong milky, sweet taste. It’s typically served in an Old Fashioned glass. If you want to add some extra kick, use Bailey’s Irish Cream (or other cream liqueur) instead of normal cream. If you leave out the cream, you have what’s known as a Black Russian.
- 2 oz. Vodka
- 1 oz. coffee liqueur
- 1 oz. cream
- Add the vodka and coffee liqueur to a glass filled with ice.
- Top with a large splash of cream and stir.
This one has some nice kick (thank you, tequila) and is going to be a good dessert drink. Think of it as a tequila-coffee float. Use a very large glass, since you’re going to add in some ice cream.
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1.5 oz. tequila
- 1.5 oz. coffee liquor
- 1 C hot coffee
- 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
- Ground cinnamon, to dust
- 1 cherry
- Frost the rim of the glass with the sugar.
- Add tequila and coffee liqueur.
- Dust with cinnamon.
- Immediately add hot coffee and the scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Shaken, not stirred. This is a fun twist on the martini. It’s a great choice if you’re fond of chocolate and coffee. Make no mistake, it’s a very sweet drink, not simply a chocolate flavored martini. Serve it, naturally, in a martini glass.
- 1 1/4 oz. coffee liqueur
- 1 1/4 oz. dark creme de cocoa
- ½ oz. vanilla vodka
- Shake for 30 seconds.
- Strain into martini glass and serve.
If you’re hosting a summertime party, this is a great drink for you. It makes a large batch that melts, so be sure you get it to people quick. Serve it in a milkshake glass.
- 6 oz. coffee liqueur
- 6 oz. dark rum
- 6 tbsp. malt powder
- 6 scoops chocolate ice cream
- 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, shaved
- 12 oz. seltzer
- 3 tbsp. coffee beans, crushed
- Combine coffee liqueur, malt, ice cream, dark rum and some chocolate shavings if you desire in a blender. Blend until frothy.
- Pour into 6 glasses. Top them off with the seltzer and garnish with coffee beans.
- 2.5 oz. coffee liqueur
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- 0.5 oz. simple syrup
- 1 oz. egg white
- Add coffee liquor, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white into a cocktail shaker. Shake for 10 seconds.
- Add a scoop of ice to the shaker. Shake again for 10 seconds.
- Strain into the glass.
Know of more coffee liquors or coffee liquor cocktails? Let us know your recommendations!