Some food, some drink.
A Classic Cocktail Twice Chilled: Cold Brew Iced Irish Coffee.
Have you ever had cold brewed coffee? For the uninitiated coffee connoisseur, the experience can be revelatory. I love the clean and complex flavors in cold brew coffee; this is a beverage that begs to be made into a cocktail. Not being one who'd want to deny a drink its destiny, I've combined cold brew joe with two other elixirs that have serious depth of flavor in their own right: Irish whiskey and demerara sugar syrup. Add a shot of dairy to bring it all together, and you've got an instantly cool and sophisticated happy hour! If you've never made cold brewed coffee, no worries; I'll walk you thru the method for that as well, and make sure you have everything you need to easily do this drink at home.
I'm just not much of a Hot Toddy drinker. If I'm drinking a cocktail, It's usually to be refreshed, and some warmed-up liquor just never seems to cut it. All the same, I feel a bit hypocritical where Irish coffee is concerned. I mean, it's hard to beat a good strong cup of French Press Joe; and ain't no one gonna hear this guy complain if there's a bottle of Irish Whiskey being passed around. So thing being as they are, a version of Irish coffee on the rocks shouldn't be a big deal. The thing is, I'm not a big fan of coffee that's gone cold. That rich, "clean" coffee taste just ain't there; and besides consuming coffee cold squanders that fantastic aroma as well. Well, a few years ago, I was hipped to the "cold brew" process: we're talking about a good overnight steep with the French press in the fridge, using a good measure more grounds that we would in a traditional hot brew situation. Cold brew coffee is an entirely different beast. There is no bitterness to speak of; and because no heat is used in the extraction the more subtle and delicate flavor compounds of a roasted bean really shine. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the same coffee brewed both ways has completely different flavor profiles.
For all the aforementioned reasons, I think cold brew coffee is a great pair to Irish Whiskey as the subtle complexities of both beverages are allowed to mingle. This drink recipe uses roughly the same proportions of booze, coffee, dairy, and sugar as the hot variant and drinks even easier.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
Cold Brewed Coffee
The Cocktail Proper
For the Coffee-
Add the coffee and the water to your French press carafe. Stir with something not metal (a bamboo skewer or plastic knife is good), gently place the lid on top without pressing the plunger and stick it in the refrigerator for 12 hours. At the end of a half day it's ready; press and pour.
For the Demerara Syrup-
While you coffee brews, you might as well get the syrup made. To a 2 quart saucepan, add the demerara sugar and water. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to help the sugar to dissolve. In about 10-15 minutes the syrup should just come to boiling; once it does, continue to simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. At the end of 5, remove from the heat, and let the syrup cool to room temperature (you don't wanna handle hot sugar syrup if you don't have to). Move to a (clean) bottle and store lidded up in the fridge until ready to use.
For the Cocktail-
In a 12 oz Collins glass filled 2/3 with ice, add the Irish Whiskey, your cold brew coffee, half and half, and your homemade sugar syrup. Stir and serve.
- You don't have to buy the obscure, fancy, hipsters-only type coffee here, but you shouldn't be buying crap either. I almost never grind my own coffee, as I find that I churn thru the 12oz pre-ground bags fast enough that it's a non-issue.
- Given how messy it could get without, I'm gonna go ahead and call the French press mandatory for this one. A smaller 12 oz press will give you enough joe for two cocktails, but you'll definitely wanna up-size if you plan on entertaining. For a large (1L) French press, use one cup coffee grounds and a liter of water (it'll be a tight fit). The math's not perfect here, but it's close enough that it makes serviceable cold brew and it's easy to remember.
- As long as you'll be steeping, it really pays to clean that press before you begin so that you won't pick up any weird flavors in your coffee's 12 hour soak. If you need help cleaning a press, I got a video for ya that shows how it's done.
- One thing you should probably pay a little attention to is the type of roast on your coffee bean. In my experience, the lighter roasts yield a cold brew that is essentially a clean-tasting coffee without any of the bitterness. Having said that, my palate finds the light roast a bit monochromatic (albeit not sucky). Definitely a safe bet if you're mixing for first-timers. I personally prefer a darker roast for my cold brew coffee, as there always seems to be a hint of some crazy flavor in there you're never expecting (the last time I cold brewed a darker roast, I swear I could taste a hint of chile).
- I love, love, love demerara, or raw sugar syrup in a cocktail. You haven't had a good mojito until you've tried it. You could use brown sugar to make this syrup and it'd be close, but as you've probably got a tub of demerara sugar in your cupboard to fancy-up baked goods anyway, you might as well put it to another good use.
Although this is an easy drinking cocktail, I would suggest that you at least sip the first one, so you lose out on the fruits of all that waiting. We've taken care to select ingredients that are full of nuance on their own, and you sure don't wanna miss out on that. The earthiness of both the Whiskey and the coffee are a perfect pair, and the caramel overtones of the raw sugar syrup is the tie that binds. If you like a stiffer drink, cut the syrup in half, nix the dairy altogether; and throw it all in a rocks glass full of ice. it won't be proper iced Irish coffee per se, but hey, isn't the opportunity to experiment what makes mixology so much darn fun?