By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer
The very best cocktail coffee that I've had recently wasn't in Portland, Oregon or Boston, nor from any one of a dozen or so micro-roasters that have popped up (with much fanfare) all over New York City. The very best coffee for cocktails, in my humble opinion, is available only in a Vietnamese restaurant. What is it about Vietnamese coffee? Is it the condensed milk? Or is it the coffee itself? What about the fact that Vietnamese coffee is the same flavorful blend that is served at Café du Monde in New Orleans? Yes, that would make sense. Chicory coffee is the reason and the flavor profile speaks clearly of hot and humid climates. If I am going to make iced coffee I want my coffee to stand up to the liquors, otherwise I'll take a pass. There is nothing more disappointing than using weak American style coffee in a coffee cocktail.
Snap is a gorgeous product. The flavor profile is liquid Ginger Snap cookie. No, it's not flavored vodka, nor is it a sticky sweet cordial. Snap is a unique 80 Proof liquor that stands up beautifully to iced coffee. When you open the top of the handsomely designed bottle the first thing you taste is the buttery goodness of a handmade Amish-style Ginger Snap cookie. The 80 Proof heat keeps the underlying sweetness firmly in check. And if this is any more reason for you to go out an order a bottle right now, the USDA Certified Organic mark on the label should further encourage you to buy a bottle. It's not only delicious, but Snap is well-crafted too! Mixed with iced Vietnamese coffee it makes for a surprise in your cup.
But I'm not done just yet.
I'm turning out to be a fan of the Luxardo Triplum Orange Liqueur. I think the flavors of sweet to spicy to aromatic in the vein of orange work beautifully with the Snap liquor and a few essential dashes of The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters add exceptional depth. This is not your usual speed rack Triple Sec. It is a gorgeous blend of flavor, quite sumptuous and rounded in your cocktails. It is not sugary sweet, but there is a profile of sweet against the brooding heat. When set against Vietnamese coffee (with condensed milk of course) and the citrus element of the bitters, a cocktail is born. It is something more than just iced coffee; it's coffee with inspiration.
Speaking of inspiration, I like to use a very special type of ice in this frosty libation. I take water filtered through a Mavea "Inspired Water" filtration pitcher and infuse the Vietnamese coffee right into the ice along with a portion of coconut water. This adds a seriously exotic element to the already luxurious intensity of the smoky/sweet coffee. With a tip of the hat to the element of surprise found in most of my cocktails, I've included The Bitter Truth Bitters in Lemon along with a splash at the end of Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water. By finishing this cocktail with a bit of this highly expressive sparkling water, it gives an zingy edge into each and every sip. Plus, if you've ever had a Manhattan Special Soda, you'll know that effervescent flavor that refreshes your thirst.
Up the Steamy River Cocktail is a means to an end to the way you drink iced coffee. First of all I encourage you to get a can of chicory coffee. I don't believe that you can achieve the specific flavor profile that I'm looking for without it, or the condensed milk. I believe condensed milk is essential to making this drink sing. I always make my Vietnamese coffee in an espresso pot because I believe the concentration of the coffee is made even more profound using this method. Let the coffee cool completely before making this drink. The day prior it's important to make the "Inspired Water" ice in the Mavea pitcher. You can go and buy one at your local Williams-Sonoma store or on line. It's made in Germany and offers a fully recyclable filtration system.
Find an ice cube tray and fill it 20% with the Vietnamese coffee, 20% with coconut water (unflavored) and 60% Mavea filtered water. Let freeze overnight.
Make 6 ounces or so of your Vietnamese espresso coffee with Chicory and let cool, set aside.
Up the Steamy River
Ingredients for four very lovely and refreshing cocktails perfect for a Go-Cup:
• 3 oz. Snap (USDA Certified Organic)
• 2 oz. Luxardo "Triplum" Triple Sec Orange Liqueur
• 6 oz. Vietnamese Espresso Coffee with Chicory (cooled)
• 4 oz. Condensed Milk (Sweetened)
• 1 oz. (in each Collins Glass) Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water over the top of the liquors
• Several Shakes of The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
• Sprinkle of freshly scraped nutmeg
• Infused "Inspired Water" Ice with coffee and coconut water
1. To a Boston Shaker filled ¾ with bar ice, add the liquid ingredients in two batches.
2. Shake well for 15 seconds.
3. Pour over your infused ice the liquors and the coffee with the condensed milk.
4. Add the Perrier and several shakes of The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters, then finish with a scraping of fresh nutmeg to make this drink very mysterious indeed!
Cheers from DrinkUpNY!
Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.