Words by Simon Difford
In 1947, an American journalist, Stanton Delaphane visited the bar at Ireland's Shannon Airport where the bartender made him an Irish Coffee. Stan was so impressed that on returning home he passed the recipe onto the bartender at his local bar, the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco. So the popularity of the best-known coffee cocktail or 'liqueur coffee' was assured. But what about the others...
No restaurant dinning experience or dinner party is complete without freshly brewed coffee followed by a glass of liqueur or spirit. At its simplest coffee cocktails combine these two drinks. In its more complex form coffee cocktails combine coffee's bitterness and a liqueur's sweetness to create a balanced drink. In the same way that the liqueur counteracts the bitterness of the coffee, the coffee's stimulant properties counteract the effects of the alcohol.
12 best coffee cocktails
With: Vodka, espresso coffee, coffee liqueur and sugar syrup.
We say: Perhaps the best and most popular cocktail of the modern era. So much so that it has inspired many of the other cocktails on this page.
With: Aged grappa, coffee liqueur, espresso coffee and sugar syrup.
We say: Italians, and those of us in the know, have a splash of grappa with their morning espresso - the flavours combine brilliantly. The same can be said for this grappa based riff on the contemporary classic.
With: Light rum, Fernet Branca, chocolate cream liqueur, espresso coffee and caster sugar.
We say: A Legacy winning minty mocha rum espresso.