For decades, coffee and cocktails have been anchors to opposite ends each day. The first, which is most likely, ahem, coffee, kicks things off in the morning with a much needed caffeine boost. The second, a nice glass of something boozy, helps you to wind down into the evening hours after a long afternoon of work (or play). These drinks have been comfortable with their roles—until now.
Recently, both beverages have started to break free from the time slot stereotypes, joining forces to prove not only that coffee and cocktails go hand-in-hand but that the drinks they’re able to create together are just waiting to be consumed in creative ways and at all hours.
“Bartenders and baristas in my eyes have a lot in common when it comes to skill, passion and palate,” says Jerry DeFazio, the CEO of Fliquor Bean, a cold-brew-coffee-infused whiskey company based in Los Angeles. “Drinking a well-balanced cold-brew coffee reminds me a lot of drinking a fine-aged whiskey. It’s all about the notes, the age, where it came from and the process. I think the new relationship between cold brew and spirits will be around for the foreseeable future. I am counting the days until I see cold brew and nitro cold brew on tap at my local bars.”
Make no mistake: The era of round-the-clock coffee cocktails is here. Below are six drinks—one for every two hours, naturally—just waiting to carry you through the day with the right balance of pep and smooth.
10 a.m.: Espresso Milk Punch
A coffee-flecked spin on the classic brunch cocktail the Bourbon Milk Punch, this drink has quickly become a weekend favorite at New Orleans’ Cavan. The chicory liqueur adds an extra special New Orleans flourish.
12 p.m.: Midnight Oil
“The Midnight Oil brings to life in cocktail form one of my all-time favorite snack combos: a morning coffee and a slice or two of banana bread,” says bartender Brett Esler of Whisler’s in Austin. “With an aged rum base, a touch of the Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur for a little depth and some vanilla extract to round it out, you have yourself a slightly caffeinated, fall-driven sipper.”
2 p.m.: Shoulda Benne Pirate
This sweet, locally inspired coffee drink from Harold’s Cabin in Charleston, S.C., adds a crumble of benne seed wafers, a South Carolina low country staple, for a unique, crunchy garnish. If you can’t find benne seed wafers, use thin sesame wafers instead.
4 p.m.: Spark & Stormy
Who says coffee cocktails can’t be a little topical? This creation from Vance Henderson of Drambuie not only adds in the juiciness of pineapple but also notes of fresh basil and a splash of mezcal—just for fun.
6 p.m.: Lynx
If you’re looking to add a little chill to your pre-dinner coffee but don’t quite want to go the cold-brew route, the Lynx from Cambridge, Mass.’s Park is the cocktail for you. Instead of serving the drink over ice, the chilling agent is actually a giant, frozen cube of coffee. (This idea could get very dangerous, very fast.)
8 p.m.: Prairie Buzz
The ideal nightcap for the coffee-inclined, the combination of cold brew and chinato in this cocktail from The Bennett in New York City make for the perfect balance of caffeinated zip and herbal calm.