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Coffee Bitters: How to Make Them and Drinks to Use Them With

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After reading the title of this post, many readers may be asking: What exactly are coffee bitters? Fans of coffee and cocktails may already be aware of the joy of coffee bitters, but for others, the spiced mixture could be a brand new thing. Coffee bitters are a way to combine coffee and alcoholic drinks to make a delicious concoction that combines coffee flavor with the taste and effects of your favorite cocktail. It takes some time to prepare good coffee bitters, but you’ll probably find that the effort is well worth it.

Why Use Coffee Bitters?

Sure, you can dump your coffee into alcohol as is, or vice versa. Irish Coffee and Kahlua drinks are famously popular coffee cocktails. But most of the time, the bar atmosphere doesn’t lend itself to brewing great coffee to mix with your drinks. You’ll often find that bar coffee uses old, stale beans, is poorly brewed, or is otherwise substandard. In addition, coffee in its traditional form often only mixes well as a hot drink; coffee bitters are much more versatile.

How to Make Coffee Bitters

While there are different recipes for making coffee bitters, here’s one you’re likely to love. Grind up 24 grams of the coffee of your choice with a mortar and pestle. Combine it in a jar with one star anise, two medium-sized orange peels, 2.5 grams of orris root, and 750 ml of 151 rum. Let all the ingredients steep together in a jar for at least four days, then taste each day to see if the concoction is ready. When it is, pour it through a strainer and then into a bitters bottle.

What Drinks to Use Coffee Bitters With

You can really use coffee bitters with just about any alcoholic cocktail, so don’t be afraid to experiment with your favorite spirits. Coffee bitters seem to go especially well with darker liquors like whiskey and brandy, so you’ll find you can make a tasty Brandy Alexander or Old Fashioned with coffee bitters. Other drinks that go well with coffee bitters include Manhattans and Boulevardiers. If you’re not sure if a drink will be a good mix with coffee bitters, give it a try anyway. The worst that can happen is you know to try a different mix next time around.

More on Coffee Bitters

Once you learn the joy of coffee bitters, you will want to experiment a lot. As mentioned, there are a multitude of coffee bitters recipes, some using different coffees, different types of steeping alcohol, different levels of ingredients and different added ingredients. Try different recipes to see which one really speaks to you – you’ll know when you’ve found the perfect coffee bitters recipe. Then of course, you’ll want to find the perfect drink to mix with it, which can be just as much fun. Use these recommendations as a guide, but again, your perfect coffee bitters drink will be one where the bitters mix well with a drink you already love, enhancing the flavors of both for a whole new taste sensation. Once you’ve started exploring the magic of coffee bitters, a night of cocktails will never be the same.  


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