Cream, whiskey, vanilla, and coffee combine with sweetened condensed milk for a silky-smooth alternative to store-bought Irish cream. We love it added to coffee, used to sweeten cake frosting, or just on its own, enjoyed over a little ice. Get the recipe for Homemade Irish Cream »
. Cory Baldwin
Sometimes at brunch you can’t decide whether you want a cup of coffee or a little hair of the dog. The good news is that you don’t have to pick—brunch is the perfect excuse to put coffee (or coffee liqueur) straight into your cocktail. From a classic Irish coffee and White Russian to a tropical Kahlua-spiked drink, we’ve rounded up our favorite coffee cocktail recipes.
For a tame start to your day, go with a coffee-based drink spiked with a little booze. A classic Irish coffee is mostly strong, hot coffee—it’s perked up with a shot of Irish whiskey and a little sugar and topped with fresh whipped cream. the Café Maria Theresia is a popular drink in Viennese coffee houses made by spiking a cup of coffee with a shot of orange liqueur. At Arnaud’s in New Orleans, they serve a flaming coffee drink called the Café Brûlot Diabolique with orange curacao, brandy, cloves, and cinnamon.
Fans of the film The Big Lebowski don’t need an introduction to the White Russian. The movie popularized this cocktail made of heavy cream, vodka, and coffee liqueur. The basic recipe is open to variation. The White Nun replaces the vodka with brandy and adds a coffee syrup, while the Petit Café replaced the vodka with herbaceous green chartreuse for an especially complex sipper.
Coffee flavors aren’t just for creamy drinks. The Li Hing Mui Margarita takes Kahlua to the tropics, mixing it with vodka and sour mix.
Find all of these drinks and more in our collection of coffee cocktails.
The name of this cocktail—a cross between a White Russian and a Thai iced coffee—is a joking nod to John Goodman’s character in the film the Big Lebowski.
This smooth and sweet vintage cocktail is a cream-based variation on the vodka and coffee liqueur libation that became known as the Black Russian in the late ’40s. Some credit the White Russian’s resurgence in popularity to 1998 cult classic The Big Lebowski, in which the lead character “The Dude” consumes little else.
Dulce y Salado
Bartender Chantal Tseng of sherry-centric bar Mockingbird Hill in Washington D.C. uses sherry and peanut rum liqueur in this rich twist on the White Russian.
Almost a cross between a White Russian and an Irish coffee, H. Joseph Ehrmann of Elixir in San Francisco created this cocktail, which features potent green chartreuse, for the 2006 Chartreuse Cocktail Competition.
At House Spirits in Portland, Oregon, white whiskey takes the place of vodka in this interpretation of the White Russian. Drops of orange oil on top of the drink lend it a citrusy aroma.
For this hot version of the White Russian, bartender Isaac Shumway of San Francisco’s Tosca Cafe ditches the vodka, mixing brandy and coffee liqueur with a hot coffee-cream mixture, and topping with cappuccino-like crown of frothed cream. Get the recipe for White Nun »
Vodka, coffee, coffee liqueur, and cream are mixed with vanilla liqueur in this cocktail, which sits somewhere between a classic espresso martini and a White Russian.
In this ode to The Big Lebowski’s signature drink, Xavier Herit, bartender at New York City’s Wallflower, concocted an upmarket riff on the White Russian with cognac, port, and real coffee in place of vodka and coffee liqueur. He advises using a dry shake, sans ice, to froth the egg white for this righteous libation.
Café Maria Theresia
This Viennese kaffeehaus specialty, named in honor of a Hapsburg ruler, raises espresso to fragrant heights with the addition of orange in not one but two ways. The coffee gets a jigger of orange liqueur, while a fragrant finish of grated orange zest crowns the thick whipped cream topping.
Arnaud’s Café Brûlot Diabolique
Our simplified version of the flaming coffee cocktail served at Arnaud’s in New Orleans uses strong black coffee spiced with whole cloves.
Native Dubliner Cathal Armstrong, chef of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia, recommends using Red Breast or Paddy Irish whiskey in this pick-me-up that’s a classic, simple combination of coffee, whiskey, brown sugar, and soft-peaked whipped cream. Get the recipe for Irish Coffee »
Patrick Poelvoorde offers an eye-opening coffee cocktail featuring Fernet-Branca—an amaro with a hearty alcohol kick that can stand up to other strong flavors like espresso and dark chocolate—at San Francisco’s Park Tavern.