There are two must-haves for anyone looking to survive the holidays: coffee and booze, preferably served together in one easy-to-consume package. To help you relax and fully enjoy the holidays, with all the headaches that they entail, we’ve asked bartenders, chefs, coffee roasters and booze experts to give us their favorite recipes for coffee cocktails.
Here are 12 boozy coffee cocktails to help you get through the holidays, six that feature cold brew and six with hot coffee. Don’t worry, there are no boring Irish coffee recipes here. May your holidays be joyful, boozy and caffeinated!
First, The Cold Brew Cocktails
Recipe from cafe manager Jacquelyn Gessay of Commonwealth Joe (Arlington, Virginia)
Cereal milk is a welcome addition to any cocktail, which is why we think Gessay’s boozy play on Count Chocula cereal will be a hit in your home. She also recommends you find coffee with chocolate notes (Commonwealth Joe roasts Blue Ridge Bluff and Humpback Hike Decaf in its cold brew) to further enhance the cocoa qualities of the drink.
1 ounce vodka (Gessay recommends Ketel One)
2 ounces cold brew (Gessay recommends nitro cold brew)
Handful of Cocoa Puffs
1. Put a handful of ice into your cup.
2. Pour 1 ounce of vodka into it and add 2 ounces of nitro cold brew.
3. Add the heavy cream to about the top and stir.
4. Finish it off with fresh cocoa puffs for extra chocolate goodness!
Thai Iced Coffee
Recipe from bar manager Luke DeYoung of Scofflaw (Chicago)
Thai iced coffee with gin might seem like a strange pairing until you think about it. “I really wanted to use Finn’s Gin in a brunch drink here; I find it super green cardamom forward, so I was trying to think of what could stand up to it,” DeYoung told HuffPost. “We also decided to add a cold brew coffee cocktail on the menu, and then it just clicked to make Thai iced coffee.” We don’t know about you, but we’re very happy it clicked.
4 ounces cold brew coffee
1 ounce gin (DeYoung recommends Chicago Distilling Barrel Aged Finn’s Gin)
1 ounce condensed milk
1/2 ounce almond milk
Pinch of ground cardamom
Whipped cream (optional: make coconut-lemongrass whipped cream)
Dash of walnut oil (optional)
1. Combine gin, condensed milk, almond milk, ground cardamom and walnut oil in a Collins glass.
2. Add ice, and slowly pour in 4 ounces of cold brew coffee.
3. Top with store-bought whipped cream (or make coconut-lemongrass whipped cream by adding heavy whipping cream, simple syrup, natural coconut flavoring and lemongrass extract to taste in iSi Professional Cream Whipper).
Recipe from bartender Gabriel Pfaffenbach of Lil’ Gem (New York City)
If you’ve never had cold brew coffee lemonade before, get ready! It’s refreshing, caffeinated and delicious. Pfaffenbach loves using it in this cocktail “inspired by a classic Pimm’s Cup, which is a fantastic low-ABV drink,” he said. “It’s smooth, buttery and very light despite adding the coffee, with a big kick of lemon at the beginning.” Your brunch booze just got a lot more interesting.
1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Serve in a Collins glass over ice.
Recipe from bartender Jeremy Oertel of Donna Cocktail Club (Brooklyn, New York)
While many of these recipes highlight the coffee flavors in the cocktail, Oertel thought it would be fun to develop a cocktail in which “vermouth is the star of the show, since it usually takes a back seat.” We agree, and love any easy-to-prepare four-ingredient cocktail that tastes way more complex than its recipe would indicate.
2 ounces vermouth (Oertel recommends Carpano Antica Formula)
1 ounce rye whiskey (Oertel recommends Lock Stock & Barrel Rye)
1 teaspoon coffee liqueur (Oertel recommends Caffè Borghetti coffee liqueur)
1 dash mole bitters (Oertel recommends Bittermens)
1. Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a Nick & Nora glass.
2. Garnish with an orange twist.
“Pumpkin Spiced Latte”
Recipe from bar manager Cody Held of Zero Restaurant + Bar (Charleston, South Carolina)
We’re big fans of any cocktail name surrounded by quotes, as if the person ordering it should be aware that it may not be exactly what the name promises. And this funky take on the Starbucks classic sure does have some unexpected ingredients. “I wanted to take people’s love for traditional fall flavors and turn it into a cocktail that would feel and taste like the famous Starbucks beverage,” Held explained. “I incorporated Bailey’s as the ‘milk,’ egg white as the ‘latte foam,’ chai and cold brew as the coffee elements and, of course bourbon to make it alcoholic and to complement the other flavors.”
2 ounces bourbon (Held recommends Larceny)
1 ounce chai concentrate (Held recommends Rishi)
1/2 ounce cold brew coffee
1/2 ounce maple syrup
1/2 ounce Irish cream (Held recommends Bailey’s)
1 egg white
2 bar spoons pumpkin purée
1. Dry shake all ingredients in a mixer with no ice.
2. Add ice and wet shake all ingredients.
3. Serve up in a coupe glass and garnish with shaved nutmeg, orange peel and a few coffee beans.
Last Night’s Outfit
Recipe from bartender Jonathan Lerma of Bayou & Bottle (Houston)
Drinks that function as “hair of the dog” are not exactly known for being tasty, but Last Night’s Outfit bucks the trend. “We created the drink as a cocktail to help people dust off from a big night and get back out there the following day or night,” Lerma told HuffPost. “We combined interesting herbal flavors with cold brew for a cocktail that’ll give you a boost and a buzz.” And considering it requires just a few pours, it won’t feel like much work no matter how you’re feeling the day after.
1 ounce rum (Lerma recommends Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum)
3/4 ounce Campari
1½ ounces cold brew coffee
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Coffee bean, for garnish
1. Shake and served up.
2. Garnish with a coffee bean.
Now, For The Hot Coffee Cocktails
Recipe from in-house mixologist Jessie Sheeran of SakéOne (Portland, Oregon)
Portland knows a thing or two about gloomy weather. So we trust Sheeran, who works for a saké producer, to come through with a cocktail recipe to brighten a dark day. It’s inspired by the “snowy winters of Japan” and provides “sweet almond notes, along with a bite of pepper on the finish.”
2 ounces genshu-style saké (Sheeran recommends G Joy Saké)
1 ounce coffee liqueur (Sheeran recommends Kahlua)
1 ounce amaretto
Splash of coffee
1. Pour saké, coffee liqueur and amaretto into a mug.
2. Top with fresh, hot coffee.
3. Garnish with whipped cream and a cherry.
Merry Boozy Holiday Cappuccino
Recipe from owner Gary Wollerman of GW Fins (New Orleans)
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire sounds fine, but we’d rather have Wollerman’s espresso cocktail that features “an underlying hint of roasted nuts” and crushed candy canes on top. He told us that it’s been a popular holiday drink since his seafood restaurant opened and that it’s the perfect way to finish a meal on a cold night.
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur (Wollerman recommends Kahlua)
1/2 ounce hazelnut liqueur (Wollerman recommends Frangelico)
1/2 ounce praline liqueur
1/2 ounce Nocello
4 ounces steamed milk
2 ounces espresso
1. Mix all ingredients other than espresso and steamed milk together. Combine espresso and steamed milk in a separate glass.
2. Combine both glasses together. Stir.
3. Top with whipped cream and crushed candy canes.
World’s Best Cup Of Naughty Coffee
Recipe from bartender JJ Campise of Elf’d Up (Chicago)
Irish coffees are ubiquitous, so you probably don’t need to be told how to make one. And yet we were so charmed by this recipe from an ”Elf”-themed pop-up bar in Chicago that we had to publish its take on Irish coffee. First you get to enjoy vanilla flavors from the bourbon-barrel maple syrup and then, after you’re done drinking, you get to eat a coffee-soaked roasted marshmallow as big as your face? Um, count us in.
1½ ounces Irish whiskey (Campise recommends Jameson)
3 ounces dark roast coffee
1 tablespoon bourbon-barrel-aged maple syrup
1 extra large marshmallow
1. Pour the hot coffee into an Irish coffee glass, add in Irish whiskey and maple syrup. Stir until mixed.
2. Skewer one large marshmallow and roast until burnt with a cooking torch or an oven flame.
3. Add whipped cream, if desired.
Recipe from Assistant General Manager Sean Fiori of Buddy V’s Ristorante (Las Vegas)
Surely you’d trust a sweet cocktail from a restaurant started by the Cake Boss, right? You should! Fiori says that this cocktail “combines my love of coffee, s’mores and peanut butter into one.” And now that you’re reminded that cake exists, you also basically have to eat a piece while you drink this cocktail. Sorry, those are the rules.
Double shot espresso
1 ounce vodka (Fiori recommends Pinnacle)
1/4 ounce Drambuie
1/4 ounce Marie Brizard Chocolate Royale
4 ounces chocolate milk
1 ounce whipped cream
1 large and 10 mini marshmallows
Crushed graham crackers
1. Rim mug with chocolate sauce and crushed graham crackers.
2. Combine all ingredients in a mug and garnish with whipped cream and toasted marshmallows.
Recipe from Quality and Education Specialist Antonio Madeddu of Caffé Umbria (Seattle)
The Scandinavian countries have a history of appreciating great coffee and fantastic booze, so it figures that it’d be a fantastic place to draw inspiration from for a holiday cocktail. “This is a lively, warming cocktail with complex yet traditional flavors of apple, maple and nutmeg,” explained Madeddu. “Spice flavors are bold with hints of star anise, clove and caraway; it’s a perfect balance of bitter and sweet flavors.”
1½ ounces aquavit
1⁄2 ounce falernum
1 ounce apple cider
1⁄2 ounce half-and-half
1⁄4 ounce maple syrup
1 shot espresso
1. Combine first six ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
2. Add ice to 2/3 full.
3. Shake well and double strain into glass.
4. Sprinkle with nutmeg to serve.
Mexican Bullet Coffee
Recipe from chef Angelo Sosa of Death by Tequila (Encinitas, California)
“Top Chef” All-Star Sosa puts a decidedly boozy spin on the energizing bulletproof coffee by adding reposado. Sosa consulted on the menu for this new restaurant, aptly titled Death by Tequila, so it’s no surprise he put forth a coffee cocktail that includes the oak-aged reposado. Just make sure you have a blender for this cocktail, as frothiness is a key component here.
2 cups coffee (Sosa recommends El Gallo single origin coffee)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons agave
1/2 ounce reposado tequila
1. Blend together coffee, salt, butter and agave.
2. Add reposado tequila and serve.