The Coffee Cocktail is a historic drink that likely originated in New Orleans alongside other iconic concoctions like the Sazerac and Vieux Carré. But what is perhaps surprising about the Coffee Cocktail is the glaring omission of anything caffeinated—there’s no coffee in this delicious libation. Furthermore, early transcribers of the drink described the name as a misnomer for also lacking bitters, an essential ingredient in anything originally called a “cocktail.”
Its original recipe called for a mix of ruby Port and cognac along with a whole egg, putting the Coffee Cocktail in the category of a flip. The result was a drink that vaguely resembled coffee with cream, the probable origin of its name. However, in this version from Jack McGarry of New York’s legendary Irish Bar the Dead Rabbit, the drink gets a makeover with Irish whiskey standing in for brandy and the addition of Irish cream liqueur. Like the original recipe, the spirits are in equal parts.
At the Dead Rabbit the drink is made with Brady’s Irish Cream Liqueur, Clontarf Irish whiskey and Graham’s Late Bottle vintage Port (rather than a ruby Port). However, when making the recipe, the quality of each ingredient is more important than getting the specific brand right. Bailey’s is an acceptable substitution for the Irish cream, or you can even try your hand at making your own. Instead of the Clontarf—a quality and affordable Irish whiskey—you could use something like Powers, Knappogue Castle, Tullamore D.E.W., or even Jameson or Bushmills. The Port, similarly, can be replaced with another as long as you stick to a late-bottled vintage Port to maintain the flavor profile. And, unlike the original recipe, the Dead Rabbit version does have bitters. In particular, it calls for Dead Rabbit’s own Orinoco Bitters, which are available from Dr. Adam’s, a Scottish apothecary who made the bitters for the bar.
With no caffeine, a frothy rich body and the sweetness of Irish cream and Port, the Dead Rabbit Coffee Cocktail is best served as an after-dinner drink, alongside a sweet treat or as the dessert itself.
- 1 ounce Brady's Irish Cream Liqueur
- 1 ounce Clontarf Irish whiskey
- 1 ounce Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port
- 1 egg
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 2 dashes The Dead Rabbit Orinoco Bitters
- Garnish: fresh grated nutmeg
Add the Irish cream liqueur, Irish whiskey, vintage Port, egg, simple syrup and bitters into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a small, chilled wine goblet.
Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
RAW EGG WARNING
Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs poses a risk of food-borne illness.