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Morning cup or night cap?

Make this homemade coffee liqueur and you can have both

A White Russian

Andrew Saliga

Whether it’s to be added to heavy cream for a dessert libation or it’s a component of a more complex cocktail, coffee liqueur is not only simple to make—it’s one cocktail ingredient guaranteed to make you friends.

The first and most crucial step to making homemade coffee liqueur is to use fresh cold brew coffee concentrate, which retains the distinct coffee flavors but offers less bitterness. Making cold brew is as easy as making regular coffee; the only difference is the temperature of the water and extraction time (how long the water is in contact with the coffee grounds). Several companies offer devices specifically designed for making cold brew, but a French press will also do a decent job.

Measure 179 grams of coarsely-ground coffee and add it to a French press with 757 milliliters of cold water. Place the French press in the refrigerator and let it extract for 12–15 hours.

Filter the cold brew concentrate from the French press and transfer 10 ounces of the liquid to a large measuring cup. Total yield should be about 13 ounces. Add a half-ounce of vanilla extract (not to be confused with imitation vanilla flavor) and 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt.

Coffee liqueur needs a base spirit, and rum, with notes of vanilla and molasses, will provide the most complementary flavor profile. There are several styles of rum, but the common thread is that all are made with byproducts of sugarcane production. Using a blackstrap rum is recommended because it is made using dark molasses—other styles will dramatically alter the liqueur. For this recipe, use 7 ounces of Cruzan black strap rum, Gosling’s black seal rum, or Myer’s dark rum.

Building on the bold flavors contributed by the blackstrap rum, brown sugar is the preferred sweetener since it’s refined sugar with molasses added. Traditional simple syrups are equal parts sugar and water, but to keep the coffee flavor dominant, combine 180 grams of the remaining coffee concentrate (roughly six ounces) with 180 grams of brown sugar, and dissolve the mixture over low heat.

Add the coffee–brown sugar syrup to the cold brew, rum, and vanilla mixture, and stir to combine. Funnel into a bottle for storage—glass swing-top bottles work well.

The most iconic cocktail you can make with this coffee liqueur is the White Russian. Simply combine 2 ounces of vodka and 1 ounce of coffee liqueur in a rocks glass filled with ice, and top it with 3/4 ounces of heavy cream.

For those looking for a slightly more refined cocktail, the Revolver is a simple solution. Created by Jon Santer to coincide with the release of Bulleit bourbon, the drink contains 2 1/4 ounces of bourbon, 3/4 ounces of coffee liqueur, and 2 dashes of orange bitters. Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an expressed orange peel.

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