black coffee spike
Black coffee spike. Matt Taylor-Gross

This is a darker, richer, cream-optional variation of homemade Bailey’s—a popular below-the-kitchen-sink Midwestern recipe—which we use to spike hot coffees. With rosemary, juniper, and whiskey, it adds both woodsy flavor and punch. This recipe will keep for up to 1 month bottled in the refrigerator.


Each year, deep in Minnesota’s northwoods, Amy Thielen invites a close-knit band of friends to hunt her land, and fortifies them with lusty, late-fall dishes like venison and sauerkraut that rival any turkey and stuffing

Featured in: A Midwestern Hunter’s Thanksgiving
Yield: makes 1 cup
Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 cup oat groats or whole barley
  • 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and diced
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 large stick cinnamon
  • 1 14 cups whiskey
  • 12 cup maple syrup
  • 14 cup molasses
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp. pure coffee extract (optional)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 14 tsp. fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • Hot black coffee, for serving
  • Half-and-half, for serving (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Once hot, heat a large cast-iron pan over medium heat. Add the oats and stir. Transfer to the oven and bake until the oats turn the color of a light cup of coffee, about 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  2. In a blender, combine the toasted oats, peppercorns, ginger, juniper berries, cloves, and cinnamon. Blend briefly to break up the spices. Add the whiskey, maple syrup, and molasses, and blend on high until roughly combined. Transfer to a storage container.
  3. Fill a medium saucepan with an inch of water and bring to a simmer; place a heatproof bowl on top (make sure it does not touch the water) and add the chocolate. Cook, stirring occasionally, until smooth and melted. Add to the whiskey mixture, then stir in the coffee extract, rosemary sprigs, and salt. Let steep at room temperature at least 2 days but preferably 5–7; strain, then chill before using.
  4. To serve, add 1–3 tablespoons to a serving of hot black coffee, adding half-and-half if desired.