Coffee Cocktail: Top 10 Most Percolating Recipes

By on June 20, 2013

Your two favorite parts of the day… your morning coffee and your after work cocktail. Why keep these wonderful things separate any longer? Humans have a long history with both coffee and alcohol, and over the centuries we’ve figured out the best ways to combine them. These delicious cocktails have been showing up all over the country, in small New York bars and big Las Vegas hotels. An alcoholic drink with coffee no longer means a shot of whiskey in your cowboy coffee. The bartending world has been reinvigorated by a new interest in coffee and all that it has to offer world of mixology. Experimentation, inventiveness, and even competitiveness have taken coffee cocktails to a new level. As a pick-me-up or just because you love the taste of coffee at any time of day, try these coffee cocktails and your tastebuds will ask you why you hadn’t already.

French Connection

The French Connection coffee cocktail had its start in the movies. The 1971 movie starring Gene Hackman, The French Connection, chronicled the drug smuggling trade between Western countries and Turkey. The French and Italian mafias fought for control of the trade, but in the popular coffee cocktail… they come together in perfect harmony. Cognac from France and amaretto from Italy complement coffee in a drink that’s been a famous pick-me-up since its first mention in 1970’s Vogue. Almond flavors meet the plum, apricot, and ginger notes of a good Cognac brandy with a sweetness that cuts the bitterness of a deep, dark roast coffee.

Irish Coffee

Variations go hundreds of years back, but the modern Irish Coffee was first invented in an Irish port on a cold winter night in the 1940s. Hot coffee was added to whiskey to warm the American passengers arriving that evening. After tasting it, an American travel writer brought it to San Francisco in 1952. Its popularity grew from there as readers everywhere heard about the warm alcoholic drink with coffee and floating cream. Some argue about its first appearance in America, but the Buena Vista has served an estimated 30 million of them since the ‘50s.


Often, invention is the product of cultural cross-pollination. The Spanish occupation of Cuba led to beverage experimentation. Cuban rum met Spanish coffee, and the Carajillo came to life. The soldiers used it as a tincture to induce bravery, hence the name “carajillo,” which is Spanish for “courage.” In many versions, most notably in America, the drink is finished with a flame. The sugar contents are ignited and caramelized. In Spain, it’s often drunk as a dessert treated, topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Some add cinnamon or a touch of citrus.


Known as the “adult milkshake,” this sweet refresher was introduced in the Grand Cayman islands where it served as a welcome Sunday treat for the locals. Invented by a bartender named Old Judd, this coffee cocktail has spread worldwide. One taste and you’ll see why. If you’ve ever wanted an alcoholic drink with coffee, this is it! A devilish mix of three kinds of alcohol, coffee liqueur, Irish cream, and vodka (or rum) conspire to deliver a kick. And as if more was needed, make it a Frozen Mudslide with a large scoop of ice cream dropped in.

Rüdesheimer Kaffee

Invented by a popular German television chef, Hans Karl Adam, in the late 1950s, the Rudesheimer Kaffee has been a popular coffee drink with alcohol ever since. Brandy, sugar cubes, vanilla, whipped cream, and chocolate flakes all have their part in creating this special coffee cocktail treat. A special glass was even invented to best balance the ingredients. The brandy is lit to melt the sugars and the sweetened whipped cream balances the dark coffee. It’s like a hot chocolate with less chocolate and more brandy.


There are many stories and many rumors surrounding the origins of the famous B-52 coffee cocktail. Some say it was named after the famous Vietnam fighter plane, some say it’s the brainchild of an Albertan bartender who named it after his favorite band… the B-52s. Whoever or whatever is responsible for its invention, the B-52 is a coffee drink that’s unmistakable. The three types of alcohol used, including a coffee liqueur, stay separate in the glass. The effect is three distinctly different colored bands within one drink. In the fighter plane spirit, this alcoholic drink with coffee is often lit on fire to caramelize the sugars to perfection.

Grand Coffee

How about a warm, fruitful, spicy coffee cocktail for a Winter pick-me-up? Think citrus liqueur, coffee, and toffee. Made in a tall glass, this flavorful coffee drink is a little lower in alcohol content, great for a desert aperitif or for those who want more flavor, less jolt. Generous helpings of sugary accoutrements bring this frothy delight full circle. Make some to share and don’t skimp on whipped cream or brown sugar syrup.

White Russian

A White Russian isn’t Russian at all. The name comes from the use of vodka in this cocktail with coffee. A White Russian, though the more popular of the two, is a modified version of the Black Russian. The name change comes from the addition of cream. Traditionally served with coffee liqueurs and served in a stout Old Fashioned glass, this coffee drink’s popularity was reinvigorated by “The Dude” in the movie The Big Lebowski, who drank them exclusively.

Espresso Martini

This drink was invented by a London bartender who was asked by an early morning patron to mix something up that would do more than just wake her up. He whipped together some of the strongest, most effective ingredients at his disposal, vodka and espresso. This rich colored coffee drink makes for a beautiful presentation in a martini glass with a few coffee beans and a layer of cream. Needless to say, it worked.

Hot Shot

The origins of this cocktail with coffee are unclear, but the effect it has is anything but hazy. It takes a steady hand to make this shot properly, so it’s a good way to test your bartender’s skills. This layered coffee drink stacks cream on top of espresso on top of herbal liqueur (usually Galliano Autentico). Any shake or hesitation on the part of the bartender makes the whole beautiful presentation falter. But regardless of form, if this cocktail makes it to your lips… it’s sure to wake you up.

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