If you're a coffee lover there's a good chance you enjoy an espresso martini, but have you ever tried an old fashioned with coffee beans? To wake up tired, predictable flavors, try tossing a few coffee beans in your next cocktail. As the beans sit in the mixed drink they'll slowly release a subtle coffee flavor that pairs well with a variety of cocktails. If you can't get enough coffee, you can boost the taste by adding more beans, but be advised that too many could ruin a perfectly good cocktail. Adding coffee beans to your mixed drink is more about subtleness than a jolt of coffee flavor. It's best to start with just a couple and add more if it's not enough for your liking.
What beans work best in your coffee cocktail? According to Punch, French bartender and cocktail proprietor Nico De Soto, who swears by this coffee bean hack, advises using dark roasts for their more potent, chocolatey flavor. Dark beans are oilier from being roasted longer, accounting for their bold taste, often described as nutty and earthy. These flavors pair well with alcohol, particularly darker spirits like whiskey, brandy, and rum, as well as various liqueurs. After finishing your cocktail, it's up to you whether or not you want to eat the beans. For comparison, eight chocolate-covered coffee beans have about the same caffeine content as a cup of coffee, so try not to overindulge or you'll risk facing the adverse effects of too much caffeine.
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Which Cocktails Work Best With Coffee Beans
To put a fun twist on a classic, try putting a few coffee beans in your old fashioned for a subtle coffee flavor. The smokey, robust flavor of whiskey (the spirit commonly used in this traditional favorite) pairs well with the caramel, chocolate, and nutty flavors of the dark roast coffee beans. Bourbon whiskey tends to have a sweeter flavor profile that includes notes of vanilla, oak, and caramel, as well as baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. If you're looking for a spirit that is a perfect match for coffee, whiskey (particularly bourbon) is often at the top of the list. The coffee beans add just a hint of coffee flavor and aroma that won't overpower the flavor of your cocktail. You can also try sprinkling some coffee beans into a Manhattan, a drink similar to an old fashioned but made with sweet vermouth instead of sugar.
Coffee beans are also commonly used as a garnish in a glass of sambuca, a popular Italian liqueur. This after-dinner drink is made with anise, a spice with a strong licorice flavor that pairs well with the nutty flavor of coffee. Sambuca is traditionally garnished with three coffee beans (symbolizing happiness, health, and prosperity) that add subtle flavor to the digestif. For a bit of dramatic flair, the alcohol is sometimes lit on fire before drinking which slightly roasts the beans, releasing more of the coffee aroma.
Other Cocktails For Coffee Lovers
Another option for working coffee beans into your cocktails involves crushing or muddling them, shaking them up with your cocktail, then pouring the drink through a strainer to prevent any stray coffee bits from invading your cocktail glass. Crushing them helps release more flavor into your drink, creating a tasty mixed drink that's perfect for coffee lovers.
If you're looking for more coffee than booze flavor, opt for a cocktail that has liquid coffee mixed into the drink. Of course, when most of us think of mixing coffee and booze, Irish coffee comes to mind. This popular breakfast/brunch adult beverage includes Irish whiskey, hot coffee, sugar, and whipped cream. Substitute the Irish whiskey with bourbon and you have a Kentucky coffee, named after the state where bourbon is most commonly made. For a burst of flavor, try mixing cinnamon whiskey with your coffee and Irish cream or creamer. Or turn it into a pumpkin spice coffee cocktail by adding some pumpkin pie spice and whipped cream.
For the ultimate blending of flavors, try infusing your alcohol with coffee. To make coffee-infused booze, simply add coffee beans to a jar or container of alcohol (whiskey and vodka work well), cover it, and allow the concoction to sit for a day or two. This will give you a perfect coffee-flavored spirit to enjoy on its own or in your favorite cocktail. You can even garnish it with a few coffee beans for aesthetics and extra flavor.
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