A Dutch proverb claims that a cup of coffee has two pure virtues: "It is wet and warm." Which is true … until you add a few ice cubes, mix in booze and top it with whipped cream.
But in America, a country where many consumers swill coffee as copiously as they consume alcohol, it was probably inevitable that the two would tangle eventually: the ultimate everyday stimulant and the ultimate everyday depressant, achieving equilibrium.
Pittsburgh has been slow to pick up on the trend: Local booze blogger Rick Stutz observers that hardly anyone is doing "anything interesting … with coffee in cocktails." But if you're looking for a yin-yang summer beverage in Pittsburgh, South Side's Beehive may be the place to go.
After acquiring a liquor license last year, the stalwart of the coffeehouse scene decided to mix up a few booze-brew options. These range from classics like "Irish Coffee" to more contemporary items like "Tennessee Joe" ($5): 1½ oz. Jack Daniels; 1½ oz. Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur); topped with whipped cream and served in a glass jug. (The latter can be ordered hot or cold, or made with dark- or medium-roast coffee.)
The iced "Cloud 9" is summer-friendly: 1½ oz. Stoli Vanilla Vodka; 1½ oz. Frangelico; a shot of espresso; white chocolate syrup; a bit of whole milk; served over ice with whipped cream. With its smooth espresso base (which the nutty Frangelico rounds out and accentuates), "Cloud 9" avoids the bitter, concentrated flavors of its more generic cousin, the "White Russian," which leans heavily on coffee liqueur rather than straight-up coffee.
But Stutz, whose blog is at www.kaiserpenguin.com, suggests trying his recipe for "Kentucky Coffee," which he says tastes like "the kind of drink Starbucks would serve": 2 oz. Four Roses Bourbon; 2 oz. espresso; 1 oz. Snap (gingerbread liquor); 1 oz. cinnamon syrup (simple syrup infused with cinnamon); shake with ice and strain.
"Though it contains a good bit of booze," Stutz says, "the coffee cuts through it."