We love coffee. We love booze. Put the two together and that’s heaven in a glass. These double-amped cocktails showcase the mastery of mixology combined with the talented touch of a blue ribbon barista. That means they work for breakfast, a mid-afternoon break, or at dinnertime drinks (or all three if it’s one of those days). Here are 15 coffee cocktails that will have you buzzing in no time.
Travelle Kitchen + Bar, Chicago, Illinois
The Midnight Train to Portland cocktail should be renamed the One-Way Ticket to Buzzville. Espresso tequila forms the backbone of the ruby red drink, which gets its hue from Pinot Noir. Pear wine and aromatic bitters add sweetness and bite. Make a reservation at Travelle Kitchen + Bar.
E.P. + L.P., West Hollywood, California
There’s an Asian accent to this aromatic sipper. Thai chilies, star anise, and cinnamon spice up the espresso, which is mixed with juniper-rich genever, cognac, and bitters to create a truly buzzy bevvie. We don’t recommend drinking more than one of them after dinner if you want to go to bed anytime soon. If your plans include not sleeping, order two. Make a reservation at E.P. + L.P.
Estrellón, Madison, Wisconsin
There’s a double caffeine kick to this cocktail thanks to St. George coffee liqueur and cold brewed coffee. Fortified with Spanish brandy, bar manager Mike Lu mixes in some Angostura bitters to add depth and lemony oleo-saccharum for sweetener. Guaranteed to put pep in your step. Make a reservation at Estrellón.
Siegel’s 1941, Las Vegas, Nevada
Made with 12-year aged rum, espresso liqueur, vanilla syrup, and Angostura bitters, the Have a Cigar cocktail is a worthy post-gig pick-me-up for rock stars. Or for you when you’re convinced you’re Roger Waters. You can almost hear Pink Floyd in the background as you sip it, “Come in here, dear boy, have a cigar/You’re gonna go far, you’re gonna fly.” Make a reservation at Siegel’s 1941.
Rockit Bar & Grill, Chicago, Illinois
Who could resist a cocktail called the Drunken Monk? Not us! Made with Evan Williams Bourbon, Frangelico, chocolate syrup, espresso, and steamed milk, it’s topped off with a cap of flame-kissed marshmallow. Make a reservation at Rockit Bar & Grill.
Sissy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar, Dallas, Texas
Bardstown Coffee is for java junkies who need something stronger than Starbucks. The coffee cocktail gets a considerable boost from a healthy dose of Jim Beam infused with hazelnuts, vanilla, cinnamon, and allspice. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a finishing layer of Maker’s Mark-enriched whipped cream on top. Make a reservation at Sissy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar.
Sushisamba, New York, New York
This is not your crazy aunt’s espresso martini. The Café Millonario features coffee-washed Bacardi Black rum, espresso, Tonka bean-infused maple syrup, dark chocolate syrup, and bitters, plus a shower of chocolate powder and a trio of coffee beans on top. Actually, you should definitely order one of these for your crazy aunt. She deserves better. Make a reservation at Sushisamba.
Three Dots and a Dash, Chicago, Illinois
This Polynesian potable packs a punch courtesy of some cold brew coffee. Oh, yeah, and also tequila, dark rum, and overproof rum. For a tropical flourish, there’s a mélange of passion fruit, lime, and pineapple juices added. Warning: don’t try to walk out with the glass. The tiki gods frown upon such bad behavior and may lay a curse upon you. Make a reservation at Three Dots and a Dash.
Arnaud’s, New Orleans, Louisiana
When you order the Café Brûlot, you get a drink and a show. Servers add brandy to the citrusy, cinnamon-rich coffee cocktail tableside and set it ablaze. Sorry, Baked Alaska, but this is our new favorite flaming finale. Make a reservation at Arnaud’s.
Rosa Mexicano-Tribeca, New York, New York
When a cocktail is called Shot Through the Heart, we can’t help but add in our best hair metal voice “…and you’re to blame, darling/You give love a bad name.” Once a Bon Jovi fan, always a Bon Jovi fan. The spicy sipper features cold brew coffee, Serrano- and jalapeño-infused tequila, and Campari. We’re sure JBJ would approve. Make a reservation at Rosa Mexicano.
The Dutch, New York, New York
It looks like a cappuccino, but there’s more to the Five O’ Clock Shadow than simply Stumptown espresso, milk, and foam art. Old Overholt Rye and Amaretto to be exact. The boozy booster comes with a pair of chocolate shortbreads. Cookies and rye > cookies and milk. Make a reservation at the Dutch.
Oceanaire, Washington, D.C.
Sometimes you need a three-for-one pick me up. We’re talking about the unholy trinity of caffeine, sugar, and booze. Oceanaire Coffee is one such glorious triple threat, made with Bailey’s, Grand Marnier, and coffee, and finished with whipped cream. Make a reservation at Oceanaire.
Filament, Dallas, Texas
Inspired by super-strong Vietnamese iced coffee, beverage director Seth Brammer created the Good Morning Vietnam. Sure to rock you from the delta to the DMZ, the bracing beverage is powered by coffee and chicory-infused bourbon. Condensed milk and spiced cream give it a sweet, silky tone. Make a reservation at Filament.
Ribalta, New York, New York
You’ve never had a Negroni quite like this. The ruddy reimagination of the classic incorporates Oxley gin, Campari, espresso, and orange oil syrup. Mixologist Tania Garofalo dubbed it La Dolce Vita because when you drink it you’re definitely enjoying the sweet life. Make a reservation at Ribalta.
Jack Rose Dining Saloon, Washington, D.C.
Bartender Mikey Barton took inspiration from the Right Hand and the Left Hand cocktails to create the No Hands. He uses coffee-infused Ferrand 1840 Cognac, sherry, Campari, and a little Cocchi di Torino to add complexity and bitterness. The results are equally nutty, chocolaty, and coffee-rich. Make a reservation at Jack Rose Dining Saloon.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Katie Burton (Rosa Mexicano); Jeff Marini (Three Dots and a Dash).