Love coffee as much as you love cocktails? A growing crop of bars have adopted day-to-night operations serving grade-A brews by day and equally solid booze by night. Capitalizing on the joint strength of the craft coffee and cocktail movements, these mashup venues are merging the roles of baristas and bartenders, blending premium ingredients on either front and tapping into java’s natural versatility as a spirits modifier. From Portland to New York City, get double the buzz for your buck at these cocktail bar-café hybrids.
It was in the 1920s that Sam Kobrick began producing coffee on the New York waterfront, founding one of New York’s oldest roasting companies. Now, fourth-generation roasters Niki and Scott Kobrick carry on that legacy with the family’s first brick-and-mortar shop, a brand-new all-day coffee and cocktail counter in the city’s Meatpacking District. The booze program, a collaboration between Hella Bitters co-founder Tobin Ludwig and head bartender Brian Averbuch, spotlights both concoctions built with coffee—including the Kyoto Negroni, layering the usual gin, vermouth and Campari with a three-hour drip of Kobrick’s single-origin Kenya coffee—as well as those drawing on the techniques of brewing, such as a Bloody Mary infusing vodka with fresh horseradish, habanero, salt, pepper and Worcestershire directly within a Chemex coffee filter.
Channeling the idea of a relaxed, social “third space” between the defined realms of work and home, this multiconcept indoor-outdoor venue touts dedicated bars for coffee and booze alongside an array of fun amenities, including six restored bowling lanes, a bocce ball court and a swimming pool. Housed in a former 20th-century trolley barn, the cocktail bar emphasizes classics with an extensive selection of whiskeys and beer, while coffee creations, like the house Pinewood Mocha with single-origin Askinosie sauce, employ roasts supplied by homegrown Nashville favorite Crema. Those worlds collide in original sips by barkeep Matt Tocco (The Patterson House, Rolf & Daughters), such as the Southern Limerick, made with rye, coffee, Meletti and heavy cream; and the Beware of the Stare, hot chocolate spiked with Cynar and Chartreuse.
A standard-bearer for the morning-to-night neighborhood spot, the legendary Caffé Dante first opened in 1915 in the once predominantly Italian enclave of Manhattan’s South Village. One century later in 2015, the bar came under the reins of Australian restaurateur Linden Pride (Saxon + Parole), with cocktails overseen by former AvroKO Hospitality Group bar man Naren Young. Preserving its storied Italian heritage, with its exposed brick walls and pressed tin ceilings, the bar peddles coffee-based drinks both standard (lattes, cappuccinos) and nouveau (cold-brew tonics) alongside an array of caffeinated libations, including a traditional Espresso Martini, a rum-and-port–spiked spiked affogato; and the signature Negroni Coffee Swizzle, fortifying cold brew with Del Maguey Vida mezcal and Noilly Prat vermouth.
The Ancho Cafecito cocktail at Melrose Umbrella Co. (image: Christine Solomon)
One of Los Angeles’ most beloved cocktailing destinations, Austin Melrose and Zachary Patterson’s Melrose Umbrella Co. debuted new hours and a speciality coffee program last fall, introducing a lineup of globally sourced, single-origin brews alongside breakfast pastries from Farmshop. Building upon the success of their nighttime cocktail program, they aimed to repurpose the space during daytime hours for relaxing, bringing a laptop (yes, there’s free Wi-Fi) or just plain old day drinking at noon. Enlisting the expertise of barista Matt Sala, a former Intelligentsia retail educator, the bar now sloshes hybrid elixirs like the Ancho Cafecito, made with Dos Armadillos reposado tequila, spicy Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, honey, cream and cold brew.
A testament to Houston’s now well-established drinks scene, this two-year-old spot from veterans Brad Moore and Ryan Rouse highlights coffee, curated by Charlotte Mitchell of local roasters Boomtown Coffee, as well as New Orleans–inspired cocktails made with the stuff. In the morning, pair brunch plates (jambalaya risotto, Texas hen and dumplings) with classic coffee drinks (cortados, café au laits), a house specialty called the Crüd (cold brew, espresso, chicory, vanilla) or three-buck bottomless drip. Available all day is a solid list of of coffee cocktails that range from classics, like Irish Coffees and Brown Grasshoppers, to new creations, like the Chartreuse-and-chocolate Idle Hands, as well as the Leather Elbows, nodding to the Vietnamese ca phe sua da found throughout the city with cold brew, sweetened condensed milk and rye.
Located in the capitol’s historic LeDroit Park hood, this whimsical Colombian-accented boîte from the team behind Vinoteca plays on the idea of a classic all-day corner joint, offering baked goods and Counter Culture coffee during the afternoons and Colombian-accented bites (arepas, butifarra) with cocktails in the evenings. With the dual program, the venue’s staff undergoes training at D.C.’s Counter Culture coffee facility before getting a primer on all things spirits, beer and wine from bar manager Lee Carrell. Teas and coffees naturally moonlight on the seasonally rotating cocktail menu—during fair-weather months, sip a fragrant Cafe Torino, made with Cocchi Vermouth di Torino and Counter Culture coffee whose grounds have been infused for 24 hours with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, anise, allspice and vanilla.
Hey, Don, at Liberty here in Seattle, we've not only had our bar be a cafe during the day for a decade now, but literally some of the best baristas in America turned into some of the best bartenders in America, starting here in Seattle at our bar.
There is a coffee shop in Phoenix that brews beer. It's called Cartel and their coffee is good, but their beers are great. They have a coffee IPA that is out of this world. Interesting to see coffee and cocktails being mixed, too. But for me, as a beer snob, I prefer the coffee and beer blend. Cheers!