The marriage of coffee and alcohol is not exactly a novel concept. But take the alcohol out of the cocktail and you still get to have something quite delicious. Inventive baristas have been using elements of cocktails (such as soda, bitters, and citrus) to create delicious, alcohol-free drinks that bring out nuanced characteristics in the coffee.
Here are 8 caffeinated creations from the best coffee mixologists around the country:
1. Snowy Plover, Andytown Coffee Roasters; San Francisco, CA. Baristas at Andytown Coffee Roasters create their signature cocktail by pouring a shot of espresso over an absinthe spoon of brown sugar to create a sweet, caffeinated syrup. The blend is then poured over iced sparkling water and topped with a dollop of whipped cream for a bubbly treat named after the area’s shorebirds (pictured above).
2. Coffee Sour, Portola Coffee Lab; Costa Mesa, CA. Their concept brew bar, Theorem, features an experimental, barista-driven coffee menu that rotates monthly. Offerings range from a menu called Trust, where customers describe their ideal drink and rely on the barista's expertise. A featured drink includes the Coffee Sour, an Old Fashioned made with slow drip cold-brewed coffee barrel aged in oak for six months.
3. Cascara Fizz, Blue Bottle Coffee; New York, NY. Most of Blue Bottle’s New York locations carry their Cascara Fizz, a blend of their coffee cherry tea, lemon, soda and simple syrup. Their coffee cherry tea, made from the cascara fruit surrounding the coffee bean, is sourced from El Salvadorian grower Aida Batlle’s farm Finca Tanzania. The fruit is dried and steeped into a tea before it is mixed with the other ingredients for a bubbly, refreshing alternative to standard coffee or tea.
4. Espresso Southsider, Houndstooth Coffee; Austin, TX. This caffeine-filled drink was created as homage to the Chicago cocktail known as the Southside. A teaspoon of fresh squeezed lime juice and soft ice manipulates the “coffee shot” to mimic the mouth-feel of rum. Next, it is topped with delicately floral Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic and dressed with mint and lime zest, which brighten the drink without compromising the subtle chocolate notes of Tweed Coffee Roaster’s Grapos Vega Del Rosario.
5. Ameri-cola, Octane; Atlanta, GA. The specialty coffee house becomes a bar at night, so it is no surprise that the bartenders and baristas often swap knowledge and ingredients. They are constantly experimenting by shaking up espresso with fruit peels and housemade syrups and bitters. Their Ameri-cola is a double shot of espresso topped with Mexican Coke and a vanilla syrup floater. Come back at night when the same drink gets a shot of Four Roses Yellow A Label bourbon and becomes the Rocket Fuel.
6. Black Julep, Black Tap Coffee; Charleston, SC. You’d think the coffee julep would’ve surfaced in Louisville first, but instead it can be found further south in Charleston, where Black Tap Coffee has an alcohol-free version called the Black Julep. Baristas brew a shot of espresso, shake it with muddled mint and honey, then serve it over crushed ice with a mint garnish. Luckily, this refreshing libation is available all year round—not just during Derby season.
7. Intelli Egg Cream, Intelligentsia; New York, NY. This spring, Chicago-based Intelligentsia opened their second New York location on the bottom floor of the Urban Outfitters mega store in Herald Square. It has been drawing in shoppers for its amped up riff on an Egg Cream. This take on the New York classic drink is made from espresso, milk and chocolate ganache shaken with ice, then strained, topped with soda and presented with a striped paper straw.
8. Blossom Fizz, Coffer; various shops in Austin, TX (soon expanding nationally). Coffer, which just launched in Austin, is the world’s first naturally carbonated cold brew. Their precise fermentation method yields microbubbles that enhance their barely sweetened coffee without overpowering it, and make for a great canvas for other drinks. The Coffer Blossom Fizz is a take on the classic New Orleans cocktail, the Ramos Gin Fizz. Coffer brew is mixed with heavy cream and brightened with drops of orange blossom water, which bring out the coffee’s natural fruitiness.