Get Buzzed: 10 Must-Try Coffee Cocktails

By Sarah Freeman  |  November 5, 2013
Credit: Nick Murway

Let’s face it: the average urbanite’s two major vices are coffee and alcohol. So, why not kill two birds with one stone via a coffee cocktail?

Bartenders are turning to cold-brew coffee and espresso syrups made with locally roasted beans to give their concoctions an extra kick. Justin Anderson, bar manager at La Sirena Clandestina, uses their La Colombe house blend on his cocktail menu. The rich coffee or espresso flavors are a natural fit with both tequila and bourbon. “Use it sparingly to let the base spirit shine through,” he said of his tequila-based coffee cocktail.

These dark and stirred elixirs are best suited as a Bloody Mary brunch replacement, an aperitif or with dessert. Most of these coffee cocktails are served chilled, but a few bars are translating the trend into an elevated take on Irish coffee. The team at Publican Quality Meats gets straight to the point with the “Bourbon and Bourbon," a shot of espresso spiked with Buffalo Trace bourbon and orange bitters.

Here's a sampling of boozy coffee creations hitting cocktail menus around Chicago.

  • The Berkshire Room: Weston

    This might just be one of the finest cocktails of the year. A simple combination of three perfectly rationed ingredients makes for a smooth sipper unlike any other libation on this list. Mixologist Ben Schiller uses wheated bourbon, Dark Matter coffee essence and a hint of pipe tobacco in this surprisingly delicious drink. P.S. the cocktail is also available at Homestead, where Schiller designed the beverage menu.

    15 E. Ohio St.; 312-894-0945

  • Credit: Nick Murway

    Carriage House: Red Eye

    This boozy brunch cocktail is the cure for the common hangover. Coffee and cream is turned on its head with La Colombe cold pressed coffee, crème de cacao and a shot of El Dorado five-year rum. The chilled cocktail is served over crushed ice on Saturdays and Sundays.

    1700 W. Division St.; 773-384-9700

  • DrumbarPortlandia

    During a recent trip to Portland Cocktail Week, mixologist Alex Renshaw was bombarded with well-crafted coffee and cocktails. Upon his return to Chicago, he created a concoction to commemorate his trip, using Dark Matter cold brew, Olmeca Altos Reposado tequila, Lustau PX Sherry, Angostura bitters and orange.

    201 E. Delaware Pl.; 312-924-2531

  • iNGMorning Brew

    Since coffee and liquor is not enough of a flavor punch for cocktail wizard and general manager Trevor Rose-Hamblin, he tops his coffee cocktail with a splash of Founder’s Breakfast Stout. The rich drink begins with High West Campfire Whiskey, tawny port, La Colombe espresso, Contratto sweet vermouth and egg white. The secret ingredient is a bit of chicory-infused agave nectar.

    951 W. Fulton Mkt.; 855-834-6464

  • La Sirena Clandestina: El Centro Connection

    Nizza beans made as part of La Colombe’s custom coffee blends are turned into an espresso reduction syrup. It's added to Siete Leguas Tequila Reposado, Vya sweet vermouth, green chartreuse and Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters. The stirred cocktail is finished with Angostura bitters and orange peel.

    954 W. Fulton Mkt.; 312-226-5300

  • OONStorm Front

    A tribute to chef Matt Eversman’s childhood dream of being a meteorologist, this take on a Dark ‘n’ Stormy is made with Dark Matter coffee and vanilla-infused rum. The cocktail is mixed with Falernum and finished with ginger beer and lime. The refreshing drink gets an extra layer of complexity thanks to the coffee.

    802 W. Randolph St.; 312-929-2555

  • Credit: Anthony Thalier

    TesoriBevanda Mattina

    This DIY cocktail comes with 2-oz. of espresso, a shot each of amaretto and amaro, and a scoop of vanilla gelato. The simple instructions are to add the mini cocktail to the freshly brewed espresso and then top it off with the gelato for a hot-meets-cold and booze-meets-brew experience.

    65 E. Adams St.; 312-786-9911

  • Three Dots and a DashA Lonely Island in the Middle of a Foggy Sea

    This mouthful of a name leads to one mouthful of a cocktail, with three types of rum and cold brew coffee. A trifecta of aged rhum agricole, black strap rum and Indian rum are added to La Colombe cold brew coffee, pineapple juice and lime. It's served in a signature tiki mug with a garnish of pineapple.

    435 N. Clark St. (entrance through the alley off Hubbard St.); 312-610-4220

  • TrenchermenCafe de Olla

    Trenchermen continues its monthly coffee series with beans from Dark Matter. In addition to pour-overs of the Koval Rye barrel-aged blend, the bar is using their Chocolate City cold brew in a cocktail that combines coffee, Piloncillo sugar, aged rum and a cinnamon stick garnish.

    2039 W. North Ave.; 773-661-1540

  • Credit: Nick Murway

    UntitledLayover in Hell

    Popular demand for coffee cocktails led Mike Karberg to add this libation to his new fall menu. Rather than using a coffee liqueur or coffee-flavored spirit, he created a rich coffee syrup and balances it with bitter Cynar. Other ingredients include Casa Noble Crystal tequila, Luxardo, Combier orange and Angostura bitters.

    111 W. Kinzie St.; 312-880-1511