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Coffee liqueurs make a splash in cocktails

Here's my new story in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday, June 30.

Coffee liqueurs make a splash in cocktails

by Camper English

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.

Most cold coffee cocktails served in the past 20 or so years have been variations of the vodka espresso (better known as the espresso martini) credited to British bartender Dick Bradsell and made with vodka, espresso and Kahlua and Tia Maria coffee liqueurs. Nopa bar manager Neyah White updated this drink about three years ago, creating the Blue Bottle martini with Blue Bottle espresso, vodka and Araku coffee liqueur. It was, and is, "a ridiculously big seller," White says.

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.

Continue reading the story here

Coffee liqueurs by Camper English in the San Francisco Chronicle

Mike Kepka / The Chronicle

Reza Esmaili at Smuggler's Cove makes a Rear Admiral's Swizzle with Firelit coffee liqueur.



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Nice article (and an interesting recipe!) but... no Vice Grip? That's what I think of when I think coffee liqueur in SF.

Camper English

Mmm Vice grip. I thought it was more complicated than it is (unless this recipe has simplified it). Just found the recipe:

The Vice Grip
Mixologist Daniel Hyatt of Alembic – San Francisco, CA
Adapted by
April 2010
Yield: 1 Cocktail


¾ ounce Araku Rum & Coffee Liqueur
3 ounces Brachetto D’Aqui, chilled
About 2 ounces porter foam


Build this drink in a slender, straight-sided liqueur glass or flute. Pour coffee liqueur in first, then add the chilled Brachetto. In a small cup, pour a couple ounces of porter and blend with a small battery powered latté frother or immersion blender until a thick froth has developed. Let the froth sit for a few seconds to stabilize and carefully spoon a ¾-inch head on top of the cocktail.

Francine Cohen


Surprised nobody's making the classic coffee cocktail. Dale rattled off the recipe in a glassware class at the MCC preview. Can dig up the recipe if you'd like. Delicious and a nice break from the traditional boozy and citrus forward cocktails we usually drink.

Also, Cherry Heering has a coffee liqueur coming out in a few months. Not sure if you've gotten your hands on it yet, but you should! It has a pleasing coffee flavor without being cloying or fake tasting. You need to try it.


Camper English

The Coffee Cocktail doesn't contain coffee. Was going to mention it but no space!


Made correctly it looks kinda like a coffee.
In all honesty the Galliano Ristretto is possibly the closest you'll get to the flavour of an espresso in the liquor world. And I've tried them all. Much respect to the company with the biggest espresso machine in the world.

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