My college boyfriend (yes, the one who didn’t like curry) was a big fan of something I called The Stimulant/Depressant Game: shots with a coffee chaser. Think of it as a universally accessible Four Loko (which, in 2010, contained 156 mg of caffeine and 12 percent alcohol — four beers and a cup of coffee) or a Vodka Red Bull for people who aren’t down with energy drinks. Although he was partially motivated by a love of both whiskey and coffee, he was also down to stay alert and drink longer, even if the whole thing functioned like roulette (that depressant effect is gonna show up at some point). We at Uproxx can get behind drinking coffee cocktails for the rich flavor, but we aren’t trying to get you Alia’s-college-boyfriend-wasted. Seriously, this is a person who met me at 8 pm and apologized for being a little incoherent because he had been drinking since 9 am. We forgot an entire Valentine’s Day because of Potter’s Tequila. No bueno.
Instead of following that far-too-inebriated example, we want you to imbibe layered, complex cocktails that celebrate the delicious flavors of coffee and spirits. With this aim, we asked some truly outstanding cocktail craftspeople to share recipes that highlight the best of coffee. That means coffee bitters, cold brew, espresso, coffee-infused liquors, and more. The recipes range from quite accessible to a bit complicated, ensuring you will find something that matches your style, ability, and tastes. We know some of you are down to craft your own housemade bitters. Others will want a cocktail that involves throwing a few things over some ice (no muddling, thank you very much) and there are some of those, too. You will note more than one espresso martini; one is sweeter than the other for you sugar hounds. Speaking of which, one of these is garnished with a doughnut. Reading the recipes is worth it just for that.
Look through the recipes, check out pics of dope cocktails, and draw up a shopping list. Drink responsibly, though. Otherwise, you end up dating someone like me, and I am extra.
Robert and Ying Adamson, The Blind Rabbit (Anaheim, CA)
1.5 oz Bourbon
0.75 oz Cynar
0.75 oz Aperol
0.25 oz Fernet-Branca
0.5 oz Coffee Liquor
2 dashes Aztec Chocolate Bitters
Build all ingredients into a yari, add cold draft, stir, strain, add slow ice.