Spike Glee: The best ways to booze up coffee

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Over the course of the most festive month of the year, in Spike Glee, Allison Shoemaker will explore the wonderful world of slipping some alcohol into a hot beverage. The last beverage up: hot coffee.


Ah, the moment to which I’ve been building all along. Outside of the punch at a high school prom, there’s no beverage more associated with pouring in a little something extra, wink wink, than coffee. More so than any of the previous installments of this series, this list reflects my personal preference, in terms of both how I like my coffee and how I like my booze-in-coffee, because really, almost anything works in coffee for one palate or another. I’ve heard people rhapsodize about mezcal and coffee, vanilla vodka and coffee, and bourbon, rye, and all other manners of whiskey in coffee. Gin and coffee is a whole thing—see this honeyed coffee gin and tonic as an example, or the (non-alcoholic) Juniper Latté Starbucks released for the holiday. The options, they are manifold.

I am but a humble fancy shopgirl. These are my indulgences. They taste good in coffee. Once again, I’ve broken them down by flavor or some other quality, and cited a specific bottle that I like, but feel free to look elsewhere in the aisle. And if you’ve got something you especially love, let me know. I love a good tot in my evening Joe.

Creamy — Cream Liqueur

From November through about February, I nearly always have a bottle of this gem on hand. Made by Tennessee whiskey distillery Benjamin Prichard’s, Sweet Lucy Bourbon Cream is a liqueur just crying out for a hot cup of coffee. It’s sweet, but not cloying, with just a little of that bourbon nuttiness peeking through. As a person who usually takes my coffee with a little sugar and plenty of cream, this replaces both. BRB, need a refill.

Nutty, pt. 1 — Hazelnut Liqueur


This should be self-explanatory. Frangelico is the best known of the hazelnut liqueurs, but there are others, and they’ll pretty much all do the same thing: taste amazing in your coffee. My local watering hole does a French press with a dram of this in the bottom of your cup, and it’s heavenly. If you like hazelnut with your coffee in any form, get on this. (Bonus: it’s a delicious liqueur for baking.)

Nutty, pt. 2 — Amaretto (almond liqueur)


See above. My go-to Dunkin’ order, before I started working from home, was cream, easy sugar, almond syrup. Amaretto does the same job, but a zillion times better. I like Luxardo’s Amaretto, but again, loads of options. Sweet, soft, amazing.

Spicy — Rum


Are you a person who likes to sprinkle cinnamon or nutmeg on the top of your latté? Get thee to a spiced rum, posthaste. My go-to is Far North Spirits’ Ålander, which has a slightly unusual flavor profile and isn’t aggressively sweet. (Note: you could also skip everything else in this series and pour this exact rum in your cider, tea, cocoa, and in the last entry to come. It’s that good.)

Coffee-y — Coffee liqueur


This should be even more straightforward. Just as adding chocolate liqueur to cocoa enhances and amplifies what’s already there, adding a coffee liqueur to coffee doubles the hell down, while adding complex sweetness. Lots of great options for coffee liqueur, including St. George’s beloved NOLA Coffee Liqueur, which plays with the flavors of chicory coffee. What I’ve got on my shelf at the moment, however, is Cardinal Spirits’ Songbird, which is made with beans that the coffee joint down the street from the distillery carts to them in a wee red wagon. It’s so cute, it’s almost galling, or would be, if this shit didn’t taste so good.

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!


Gin and Panic

You’re missing some very important and delicious options. The Swiss have perfected boozy coffee with the Koffee Fertig: Coffee with fruit brandy. My favorites are Kirchwasser or Pflümli (real Cherry Brandy or Plumb Brandy, don’t fall for “flavored” alcohol.) Both of these Schnaps are clear 80 proof and delicious.

The idea is to start with very weak coffee. Make coffee weak enough to see through, add enough sugar so that you can’t see through it any more (I like three cubes) then add enough brandy so that you can again. Many all-night Jass spielen rounds have been fueled by Koffee Fertig.