Wake Up and Smell the Boozy Coffee
Spirits and coffee have long enjoyed a collaborative relationship—for as long as liquor has existed, coffee has been there to revive the body after late nights and overindulgences. The creator of the Irish coffee (and later, the espresso martini) must also be commended, for it was that imaginative bartender who first commingled fine spirits and potent coffee in the same glass, thereby creating a libation that kept the soiree going late into the night (and long before the advent of Red Bull and vodkas, no less).
It’s no secret that liquor and coffee are both good on their own, and many distillers have labored to create a spirit that is equal parts of both. While there are many coffee liquors that shine, the following two have succeeded beyond all expectation.
Glass Kona Vodka
This 80-proof Kona coffee–infused vodka, which is distilled from grapes at the Glass distillery in Seattle, is not a spirit that will appeal to many drinkers of skinny mocha Frappuccinos. Instead, it’s intended to please the palates of those who enjoy damn good vodka and damn good coffee in their purest forms. No sugar is added during the distillation process, which produces an exceptional “I like my coffee black” mouthfeel and aroma. Not surprisingly, Glass Kona Vodka performs beautifully on the rocks, as the base of an espresso martini, or—with a touch of simple syrup and cream—as the backbone of an elevated White Russian.
St. George NOLA Coffee Liqueur
After one sip of this coffee liqueur, you might believe a mad scientist is at the helm of California’s St. George Spirits. And you’d be right—sort of. Lance Winters, the company’s master distiller, was a nuclear engineer before shifting his energy and attention to a decidedly more delicious vocation. But NOLA Coffee Liqueur is actually the brainchild of Winters’s colleague, Dave Smith, who wanted to create a spirit that paid tribute to New Orleans’s unique style of coffee. This sweet and balanced liqueur is made with French chicory root, Madagascan vanilla, and Ethiopian coffee beans from Oakland’s Jewel Box Coffee Roasters. It’s delicious neat and makes for an amazing after-dinner drink, one that pairs beautifully with the soulful blaring of a brass band.