An afternoon coffee can arrive in many ways: a rushed affair with leftovers from the morning; a cozy meeting with a friend; a nervous, caffeinated first date; a scorching hot espresso standing up. And sometimes a coffee break can lead directly to cocktail hour.
Sure, you can pour an espresso martini, but if you want to make caffeinated drinking easier, choose a coffee tonic – and add alcohol.
Light, bubbly and bitter coffee tonic – espresso or cold brew poured onto tonic water and ice – first appeared on the menu at Koppi, a roastery in Helsingborg, Sweden. In mid-2014, the sparkling drink had become a real thing in the United States. It remains a bittersweet pick-me-up for warm weather.
Easy to prepare, Coffee Tonic can only consist of coffee plus tonic water. Naturally complex in taste, with a simple stop at the bar trolley it goes seamlessly from the café to the cocktail glass.
One bottle to draw (and one that is already a natural product with tonic) is gin. The GCT (Gin, Coffee, Tonic) starts with a mixture of lime wedges, sugar and a pinch of salt before adding ice, a serving of gin and dry tonic. A gentle infusion of cold brew adds a visually striking layer that sinks into the drink with slow, steady determination.
Alternatively, grab a bottle of Amaro if you want a drink that is lower in volume but no less happy hour suitable. In the Cherry-Amaro Coffee Tonic, Amaro is combined with maraschino cherry syrup, mixed with dry tonic and topped with cold brew. The end of the drink with a sprig of rosemary and a lemon peel brings out the herbal citrus notes. Although the recipe suggests a lighter, sweeter, more citrusy bottle of Amaro like Nonino, Averna, or Montenegro, any Amaro will work. If you end up opting for a more bitter bottle, just compensate for more maraschino cherry syrup.
When making coffee tonic, certain ingredients can make a difference. Dry tonic from companies such as Fever-Tree, Q Tonic or Fentimans give the final drink balance. (If you can’t find a dry tonic, use equal parts tonic and soda water.) When choosing caffeine, high-quality coffee, be it espresso or cold brew, ensures that the finished drink is pleasantly bitter and not tart. Finally, but perhaps most importantly, pour the tonic first, and then the coffee last, to avoid your well-deserved drink gushing over the glass.
Choose one of the two combinations mentioned above or be inspired by your home bar and dream of your own. Whatever you choose, spiked coffee tones served on hot days – or nights – offer a refreshing, bubbly excuse to let afternoon coffee slip right into the evening.
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Makes 1 drink
Makes 1 cocktail