Here. Have a Spanish coffee.
It’s a warm, bittersweet coffee cocktail, perfect as a dessert drink when you’re staying up late on a cold night.
But this one is fun to make. You get to light it on fire. It’s high drama.
It’s a drink that originated at Huber’s Cafe in Portland, Oregon in the 1970s, which was deep in the Dark Ages of the well-crafted cocktail. But this one is a rare bright spot from that dark era.
It’s a take on the traditional Spanish drink, the Carajillo, a combination of espresso and brandy or rum.
No self-respecting Spaniard would ever use American-style brewed coffee. Not even, like, third wave single origin pour over.
And they’d never add milk or cream to an after dinner drink. (The Italians wouldn’t either. They think Americans are uncouth for ordering cappuccinos or lattes or anything with milk anytime after breakfast.)
But this is an American take on the Spanish Coffee, and here most of us don’t have espresso makers at home and we haven’t found that a bit of cream in our coffee after a meal stops our digestive processes.
Also, we like a little bit of spectacle.
And this drink supplies that.
But really, while it looks complicated, it’s actually quite simple to make.
You sugar the rim and pour some overproof rum (which is any 151-proof rum, which catches fire easily) and some triple sec, strike a match or pull out one of those multipurpose utility lighters, and let the burning rum caramelize the sugar around the edge.
(Make sure you’re using a glass with a stem!)
Then you add freshly brewed coffee, some coffee liqueur, and some lightly whipped cream and grate some nutmeg over the top.
It’s a dessert drink, but not an overly sweet one tempered as it is by the bitterness of the coffee and the complexity of the caramelized-sugared rim.
If you’re one for high drama in the morning you could certainly do this for brunch.
And if caffeine keeps you up at night, by all means use decaf for this one.
This year, for me, it’s just about the right amount of excitement for a New Year’s Eve.
We’ve reached an age where staying up until midnight sounds like more of a chore than a fun evening. We like to celebrate the New Year when it arrives in Newfoundland, which is 9:30 in Chicago. (I like to call it our happy Newf Year…) Then we can be in bed by a sensible 10:00 pm. Oof. We are old.
I’m not much for writing down New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve been enjoying this list of Woody Guthrie’s “New Year’s Rulin’s” from 1943, which includes such gems as “dream good,” “change socks,” and “fight fascism.” All of which sound like good ideas for 2017.
Happy New Year everyone!
- sugar, for rimming the glass
- water, for rimming the glass
- 3/4 oz 151-proof rum
- 1/2 oz triple sec
- 1 1/2 oz coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua or Tia Maria
- 3 oz hot coffee, freshly brewed
- lightly whipped cream, for garnish
- freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
- Put some sugar in a shallow bowl. Put some water in another shallow bowl. Dip the rim of the glass in the water and then into the sugar to make a band of sugar around the rim (both on the inside and outside). Add the rum and triple sec to the glass, and light with a match or lighter.
- Hold the glass by the stem at an angle and let the flame heat the sugar around the rim and twirl the glass until the sugar begins to bubble and caramelize. I like it dark and caramelly. It usually takes about a minute.
- Add the coffee liqueur and the coffee. Top with whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg. Serve immediately.
- Original Irish Coffee Glass (Gift Box Set of 4)
- The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique (Cocktail Book with Cocktail Recipes, Mixology Book for Bartending)
- Cocktail Kingdom Japanese Style Jigger 1oz/2oz - Stainless Steel
- Cocktail Kingdom Japanese Style Jigger 3/4 oz and 1/2 oz measure - Stainless Steel
- Cocktail Mixing Glass 500ml
- Microplane 46020 Premium Classic Series Zester Grater 18/8 Black
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Amount Per Serving:Calories: 247