So, call me crazy, but very few cups of coffee that I’ve seen are purple. Okay, none. But, don’t think that’s a harsh criticism of the Coffee Cocktail. Simply an observation. I certainly see what the originator of this drink was thinking and, given a more brownish port I think mine would have come out looking more like the coffee I’m used to. That’s enough of the drivel, let’s discuss the recipes and my thoughts.
As I mentioned in the intro for this cocktail I started with another recipe from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. As a quick aside, if you don’t have VS+FC yet, you should really get it; it’s a fantastic tome. The recipe listed called for 2-3 oz of port. For my first mix I opted for 3 oz and was a bit overwhelmed. The drink is certainly good at this ratio, but the flavors of the brandy are completely smashed by the port. The consistency and mouth feel of the drink are fantastic though, very much like a really good eggnog. Thick and mouth coating with a flavor that lasts.
Returning to the proverbial drawing board, in my case my cocktail bookcase, I found a recipe listed from Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide which I found via Imbibe. This recipe is nearly exactly the same as the one from VS+FC with two exceptions. First, note that only two oz of port are called for. Second, the recipe calls for powdered sugar. The port looks good, but I need to make some comments on the sugar. Whenever you see a cocktail recipe that calls for powdered sugar or bar sugar, you should reach for superfine regular sugar. Powdered sugar, as sold in the US, has cornstarch added to it to prevent clumping. This will not do good things for your cocktail, trust me. If, like me, you don’t have superfine sugar on hand, do what I did. Drop a half cup of regular white sugar (or raw sugar if you like) in your food processor and chop it for a bit until it’s fine and powdery; problem solved.
Coffee Cocktail (Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide)
1 oz Brandy 2 oz Ruby Port 1 tsp Powdered Sugar 1 Egg Grated Nutmeg
This recipe is definitely my favorite of those that I found. The port doesn’t overwhelm the brandy, improving the overall balance tremendously. That wasn’t the end of the sampling, though. As Pavel (Scomorokh) pointed out in his blog post about the cocktail, there is also a version that uses only an egg yolk rather than the whole egg. My recipe for this version came from the Savoy Cocktail Book and also added an interesting addition in the way of a bit of curacao.
Coffee Cocktail (Savoy Cocktail Book)
1 oz Brandy 2 oz Ruby Port 1 tsp Powdered Sugar 1 Egg Yolk Dash of Curacao Grated Nutmeg
I found that the yolk-only version lacked some of the silkiness of the whole egg version. The flavor was nearly the same though, the curacao being lost completely to my palate.
Coffee Cocktail (Cocktail Hacker)
1 oz Brandy 2 oz Ruby Port 1 tsp Superfine Sugar 1 Egg Grated Nutmeg
1) Pour brandy into an ice filled shaker 2) Add egg, port and sugar 3) Shake and strain into a goblet 4) Top with grated nutmeg
There you have it, the Coffee Cocktail. It doesn’t taste like coffee at all, but it certainly is tasty. The wine and brandy flavors play really nicely with the touch of nutmeg and, as I mentioned above, the egg adds an incredible texture. As you can see in my photo I paired the cocktail with a shortbread cookie and some dark chocolate. Like red wine this drink pairs really well with those flavors. Give it a mix some evening and enjoy a truly unique flavor.