Coffee: elixir of the gods, America’s tea, go-go juice, the thing that gets us up and at ’em. Something about the swampy ol’ summertime makes iced coffee a necessity, not just a luxury: With the flip over to true summer that finally happened last week, it’s time to hang up the hot and switch to icy drinks, and considering the way heat slows down your brain, caffeine is most definitely indicated.
So I was looking for a classic coffee-based cocktail to Remix this month. I’ve already done the Irish Coffee, but a drink that’s equally popular on the West Coast is Mexican Coffee: tequila and Kahlúa stirred into hot coffee, topped with whipped cream and dusted with cinnamon. It’s pretty good, but it’s a warming, sit-by-the-fire kinda deal – definitely not where we’re at now. But how about a tequila-based iced coffee? The wheels started turning. (Slowly, though. Because damn it’s hot.)
The sudden ready availability of premium-quality bottled cold brew is what really made this drink a possibility in my mind. Between the delicate cold-brew stubbies from Portland roaster Stumptown (available at P Is for Pie Bake Shop) and the slightly sturdier, burlier brew bottled by local East End Market-based Lineage Roasting, the potential for icy coffee-based cocktails is sky-high.
So, the Remixed Mexican Coffee: iced cold-brew mixed with tequila and vanilla-citrus Tuaca, sweetened with a hint of cinnamon and dashed with spicy cacao bitters. It’s soft and rounded, neither overly sweet nor harshly liquorous.
Some mixing notes: In this heat, I prefer to keep dairy out of it; it just feels heavy and mucky to me. This cocktail works beautifully without cream and I urge you to give it a try as written; but feel free to add a dash if that’s your thing. Also: In some drinks, liquor brands don’t matter, but in some they really do. I used Partida reposado tequila here, and I strongly suggest using the same or a comparable quality – cheap tequila will make your drink taste like plastic. Last: Mix it as a cocktail first, with just 4 ounces of coffee, but after tasting and appreciating, feel free to lengthen the drink by adding ice and the rest of the stubby. This makes for a world-softening sipper, perfect for weekend mornings of cheffing brunch or reading the Sunday papers.
5 ounces hot coffee
1 ounce coffee liqueur (such as Kahlúa)
1/2 ounce tequila
2 tablespoons whipped cream
sugar to taste
cinnamon (optional garnish)
Pour coffee into glass mug and sweeten to taste. Stir in tequila and coffee liqueur. Top with whipped cream and dust with cinnamon, if desired.
one bottle Stumptown cold-brewed coffee
1 1/2 ounces reposado tequila
3/4 ounce Tuaca
Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon simple syrup
First make the cinnamon simple syrup: Mix 6 ounces of sugar and 6 ounces of water in a small saucepan, add two large cinnamon sticks, and bring to a boil. When sugar is completely dissolved, set aside to cool.
In a pint glass, gently stir together 4 ounces of the coffee with tequila, Tuaca and cinnamon syrup. Pour into a rocks glass over one large ice cube and top with four dashes of bitters. Alternatively, to “lengthen” the drink, add ice to the pint glass along with the rest of the Stumptown stubby, stir again, top with a few more dashes of bitters and enjoy.
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