Many of us love our cup of hot coffee to perk us up in the morning (and maybe a few more throughout the day to keep us going). While the comforting flavor of your favorite drip coffee or espresso is always reliable, sometimes a liquor shot can transform your cup into a deliciously different coffee drink with an extra kick. So, what is the best liquor for coffee?
Coffee offers more than just a morning boost. It can be the perfect drink in cold weather to bring some color back to your cheeks or maybe even just a comforting beverage to have while watching TV. Iced versions are perfect when the warmer weather hits.
There are lots of ways to enjoy your coffee and give it more oomph. That being said, always be mindful and responsible for your safety and other people’s when drinking a coffee beverage with alcohol.
The Best Coffee Liqueur For Coffee Cocktails
Creating coffee cocktails is not limited to basic hot brewed coffee. You can indulge yourself with ice versions or espresso shot mixes. The bold, nutty taste of coffee fits into both hot and cold drinks easily, with milk and cream common additions at any temperature.
Coffee cocktails that mix the effects of alcohol and caffeine have been around for decades. A nice Irish coffee, espresso martini, or a hot white Russian are all delightful after-dinner treats.
There are lots of great recipes, and knowing the best liqueur for coffee is a great place to start when experimenting with how to best kick your cappuccino up a notch. Here are some great ideas for creating your new favorite drink and practicing your mixology skills.
For most people, vodka would not be the first choice for pairing with coffee. Vodka offers no sweetness and not enough taste to stand out against the strong flavor of coffee, so why bother adding it at all?
However, when you use vodka with ingredients such as vanilla syrup and milk or heavy cream, it emerges as an awesome flavor boost. The most famous coffee cocktails using vodka are the espresso martini and the black Russian.
There are many hot and cold coffee recipes that will include vodka and balance the taste properly. Don’t discount vodka and coffee from your list of drink blends. You can even find flavored vodka for a fun spin on spiked cold brew.
Rum comes in a wide range of styles, from mellow to sweet and spicy. This gives it lots of potential for interesting drink combinations. For example, a white coconut rum cold brew cocktail or using black rum to add more spice to a deep Robusta brew.
Recipes cover hot and iced espresso coffee, latte mixes, and even coffee milkshakes. Coffee and rum in a milkshake topped with some real whipped cream will offer a great afternoon treat or after-dinner dessert.
3. Hazelnut Liqueur
Since most brewed coffee already has a delicious nutty flavor, hazelnut is a natural compliment. It’s a breeze to simply add a splash of this liqueur to boost your after-dinner drink.
There is no fuss or mess. If you want a little more flair, top this decadent combination with whipped cream and shaved chocolate. One popular drink is a hazelnut martini which combines hazelnut liqueur, vodka, coffee liqueur, and heavy cream.
Bourbon is another type of alcohol that can hold its own alongside the strong flavor of black coffee. A mix of bourbon with a hot brewed coffee or espresso is a classic drink.
However, for a little more pizzazz, you can make a latte or cappuccino with some butterscotch flavor and bourbon. The latte foam, along with some drizzled butterscotch syrup, makes a great coffee combination.
Originating in Veracruz, Mexico, this list would not be complete without Kahlúa. This coffee-flavored alcohol is the best coffee liqueur for enhancing a cup of java.
It’s made with Arabica coffee beans and rum. Whether you add a shot to your espresso drinks or plain drip coffee, it has enough rich flavor and sweetness to make you sigh at each sip. Kahlúa is often used to whip up black Russians, espresso martinis, and the Mudslide cocktail.
St. George Nola Coffee Liqueur is a good Kahlúa substitute, although the St. George spirits are not as sweet. For a more refreshing drink, you can opt for Mr. Black’s cold brew coffee liqueur. This drink combines roasted coffee beans with Australian wheat vodka and cane sugar.
Coffee with liquor doesn’t have to be complicated. Whiskey offers the perfect coffee compliment and, of course, brings us the well-known and well-loved Irish coffee drink. As with most alcohol additives, whiskey can be used in hot or cold coffee drinks.
Irish coffee combines hot coffee, whiskey, and sugar topped with cream. One could say it looks like a pint of Guinness. For a twist on classic cocktails like an Old Fashioned, you can blend whiskey, coffee liqueur, and orange bitters.
Here is a type of alcohol that probably did not cross your mind when thinking about a coffee and liquor combination. The taste of tequila isn’t automatically suited to coffee as easily as something like Kahlua or Baileys. However, if you add some cream, sugar, and cinnamon, you may find adding a shot of tequila to your coffee is just the kick you need.
Another drink is Café de la Mañana. Although recipes vary, a classic combo includes tequila, freshly brewed coffee, heavy whipping cream, agave nectar, coffee liqueur, and vanilla. Drinks using several liqueurs have a high ABV, so drink responsibly.
For the best of both worlds, you can try Patrón XO Café, which combines tequila with coffee essence.
This liquor is an old-school taste that has been forgotten by many. However, it can offer some great options for coffee liquor. Brandy is a liquor produced by distilling wine and can be a great addition to your caffeinated drink, whether it is hot or cold.
There are lots of recipes that add various forms of brandy to drinks, including regular coffee, iced coffee, and even milkshakes.
9. Cream Liqueur
If you want a smoother drink, then a cream-based liqueur is a match made in heaven. The most popular of which is arguably Bailey’s Irish cream, a blend of whiskey and soft cream. You can also opt for brands like Molly’s, Saint Brendan’s Irish Cream Liqueur, and Carolan’s Irish Cream.
If you don’t like whiskey, you can even find rum-based cream liqueurs, like RumChata Cream Liqueur, Wray & Nephew Rumona Liqueur, and Rumbar’s Rum Cream Liqueur.
The cream softens the harshness of the spirits, so you can create luscious alcoholic lattes or hot chocolate. You can drizzle some over ice cream and espresso for a spiked affogato.
10. Tia Maria
Tia Maria is one of the best coffee liqueurs. It is a blend of roasted Arabica coffee, Jamaican rum, bourbon vanilla, and sugar. Tia Maria is beloved for its bittersweet flavor profile as the robust coffee and citrus compete with the vanilla and caramel notes.
It is often used to brew cocktails like a white Russian. Less popular but still delicious, some coffee cocktails entail blending Tia Maria with raspberry-flavored vodka, cream de cacao, and heavy cream for a fluffy, fruity infusion.
You can also use it to make coffee desserts like tiramisu. Learn more in our guide on the best coffee for tiramisu.
11. Creme De Cacao
Chocolate and coffee are a match made in heaven. Think mochas, coffee cakes, and chocolate-covered cover beans.
For something more adult, this is where cacao liqueur comes in. These liqueurs are usually made from cocoa beans, distilled alcohol like vodka, and sugar.
The most popular cream de cacao is akin to milk chocolate, but you can find dark and white variations. Some brands will add vanilla beans and sugar cane for extra flavor. For example, Tempus Fugit Creme de Cacao a la Vanille is made with Mexican vanilla and Venezuelan cacao.
This is the best for making spiked mocha or hot chocolate for additional notes of chocolate in these decadent drinks. Popular brands include Mozart Chocolate Cream Liqueur and Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur.
Jägermeister’s flavor is akin to herbal liqueur and black licorice. Although those flavors seem like they wouldn’t complement coffee, Jägermeister cold brew coffee is a must-try. The botanicals in this drink include saffron, licorice, poppy seeds, ginseng, citrus peel, and more.
The brand sells a pre-made Jägermeister cold brew, but many coffee lovers like to whip this drink up from scratch in their home bar. The recommended method is to combine one part Jägermeister with one part cold brew and shake.
You can sweeten this spiced cold brew to taste and add additional flavors like chocolate, caramel, or vanilla. Fresh coffee makes for a more complex drink.
Some even use nitrogen to soften the flavors even further. If you want that coffee feeling with no caffeine, a chicory root cold brew is a popular alternative. Learn more about why French chicory is so popular in colonial cities like New Orleans in our chicory coffee explainer.