In the latest issue of my favorite drinks magazine, Imbibe, the editors asked me to provide an iced coffee cocktail for their “Distilled” Q&A column (not pictured). Despite the surge in popularity of both craft coffee and cocktails in recent years, the two drinks don’t show up in the same glass all that often, probably because most coffee shops don’t have liquor licenses and the coffee at most bars is terrible.
Iced coffee drinks are a good way to bridge the gap. It’s just as easy to make as hot coffee, but it’s more temperature stable so that a bar doesn’t have to worry about making it a la minute or letting it go stale during service. My favorite way to make it is the “Japanese method” popularized by Peter Giuliano of Counter Culture Coffee, in which very concentrated hot brew coffee is poured directly ice. The ice melts, cooling the coffee and bringing it to the proper level of dilution (just like stirring a cocktail). This preparation captures flavors and acidity that would be lost in a cold brew. It’s fantastic with East African or Central American coffees with bright fruit notes, making a refreshing drink reminiscent of iced tea. For details on this method, see Imbibe or the Counter Culture brewing guide.
For the cocktail, I picked ingredients to play off the citrus, fruit, and floral notes of African coffees:
1 1/2 oz pisco
3/4 oz Dimmi
1/4 oz lemon juice
4-5 oz iced Yirgacheffe coffee
Build in a rocks glass with ice. (The print recipe instructs to shake and strain, but that’s not necessary.)
Campo de Encanto is still my go-to choice for pisco. Dimmi is a Milanese liqueur flavored with grappa, herbs, and flowers, which I’ve paired with pisco once before. And for the coffee Yirgacheffe from a quality roaster is great, but any other coffee with a fruity flavor profile will do fine.
If you make a big batch of iced coffee, this can make a refreshing patio drink. Or if you want to serve an iced coffee cocktail at a bar, the coffee can be made before service and be good for the night.
For more iced coffee cocktails to explore, here are a couple from Elizabeth McElligott at Food Shed.