Coffee cocktails get serious

Camper English has an interesting article in this weekend’s San Francisco Chronicle about the new wave of coffee cocktails and high-end coffee liqueurs finding their way onto bar menus:

The craze for organic, shade-grown, micro-roasted slow-drip coffee has percolated into the cocktail world. Bartenders are improving classic coffee drinks, finding ways to harness the beans’ bitter, aromatic qualities rather than just the caffeine kick. […]

Coffee liqueur got a good bit more serious with the April release of Firelit Spirits Coffee Liqueur, made with coffee from Oakland’s Blue Bottle coffee roasters and brandy from distiller Dave Smith of St. George Spirits in Alameda. Jeff Kessinger, the brand’s founder, says Firelit was inspired by a desire to create a better version of his wife’s family’s homemade coffee liqueur recipe. The original called for instant coffee.

The first batch of 1,800 bottles required several hundred pounds of coffee from Yemen and a multi-stage brewing, distilling and flavoring process, with about one-half to one-third the sugar in other liqueurs. “The goal was just to make a coffee liqueur that was about the coffee, not about the sugar,” Kessinger says.

The coffee bitters from me and Lance Mayhew get a mention as well. They’re simple to make and our recipe for them is here; for a cocktail to use them in, try the Antigua Old-Fashioned.

Other coffee cocktails on this blog include the Lebowski-inspired El Dude and the Dimmitude made with clarified coffee.