Unless you have better judgement than us, you’ve probably stumbled into coffee liqueur at a bad happy hour or wedding reception or lake-house liquor cabinet. It was probably enough to put you off coffee in your cocktails forever. But hear us out: We found one that doesn’t suck.
Frank Liotti at Freemans in New York put together The Hitman, a rye cocktail that uses cold-brew coffee and, God bless it, doesn’t treat the coffee as a gimmick. It has a bite, but it’s smooth going down, bitter enough to stay off the dessert menu, and the alcohol is masked well enough that you’ll think it’s sessionable (we assure you it is not). Liotti describes it like a chef kissing his fingers — fat, caramelly sugar crystals! Chocolate bitters! High-proof, complex rye! — down to the garnish that isn’t just a garnish. “The most important variable is the lemon twist,” he says. “The oil from the lemon is what makes this actually work. It brings it all together and serves a purpose.”
All that’s to say, this is a whiskey drink worthy of summertime. You just have to figure out what you want it to be. Is it the grown-man’s Red Bull and vodka? Or is it his spiked coffee on a Sunday afternoon? The only thing it isn’t, Liotti says, is your new brunch drink. “It’s too much to start the day. It’s too much for brunch.”
But listen: He’s not the boss of you.
- 2 oz Old Overholt Rye
- 1/2 oz cold brew coffee
- 1/2 oz demerara sugar
- 2 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec chocolate bitters (Liotti says the brand isn’t important, just the chocolate)
- Lemon Twist
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass.
- Stir until cold.
- Strain into a rocks glass.
- Garnish with lemon twist.