3 Coffee Cocktails Beyond Espresso Martinis

Coffee is the gift that keeps on giving — and for many, it’s a daily necessity. Statistics show that nearly 883 million of us rely on a caffeine-fuelled cup of joe every morning to wake up. So, it should come as no surprise that when night falls and we head out on the town, plenty of us turn to coffee-based beverages to keep us going.

After all, who needs a Jägerbomb when you could have a chocolatey Espresso Martini to kick off your Friday night? That being said, if you’re looking to shake up your drinking habits, we have some other recipes in mind that might do just the trick. There’s no mixology masterclass needed here, just a little sense of adventure. These are our top three coffee cocktails to try out that aren’t the classic Espresso Martini.

1.    Corretto

Caffè Corretto is a quintessential Italian cocktail made from an espresso shot and a generous dose of Grappa, a fruity, floral brandy produced from grape pomace. As you might know, coffee culture is incredibly important in Italy — a love affair that dates back to 16th century Venice, according to Italian food connoisseurs Pasta Evangelists. They explain that the culture that has since developed “has not discriminated between ordinary folk and renowned artists and thinkers, making it a staple of the country’s everyday life.”

To respect its roots in il bel paese, here’s how to do a Corretto correctly. You’ll need equal measures of espresso and Italian grappa. Typically, the standard serving size of an espresso shot is about one fluid ounce, but each machine will differ. As for the beans to use, there’s not necessarily any right or wrong — just select your favorite classic variety to bring out the rich flavor of the coffee. Pull your espresso shot into a small cup, then top up with grappa and serve.

2.    Black Russian

The classic Black Russian is a no-fuss cocktail prepared with vodka and coffee liqueur over ice. Most bars will use Kahlúa, a coffee liqueur hailing from Veracruz, Mexico. Kahlúa is considered a mixing staple, made with rum, sugar and arabica coffee. In 2021, the brand reduced its alcohol content to just 16% ABV, so while the drink is still strong, it shouldn’t be too potent for the true coffee lover.

As the name suggests, the beverage is prepared in a similar fashion to a White Russian, but omits the dose of fresh cream. This provides a mouthfeel more akin to an americano than a cappuccino and better highlights the flavor of the Kahlúa.

For cocktail lovers that are looking for a sophisticated tipple, the Black Russian is the way to go. And what’s more, it’s simple to make as it doesn’t require an espresso machine. Start with a rocks glass filled with ice cubes, add two ounces of your choice of vodka, followed by one ounce of Kahlúa. Gently stir and garnish with an optional maraschino cherry.

3.    Bushwacker

We think of the Bushwacker as a kind of mashup between a rich, creamy chocolate milkshake and its older sibling, the Piña Colada. This decadent frozen cocktail was first invented by a bartender and restaurant manager in 1975, named after a guest’s dog visiting the bar.

There are many variations on the standard Bushwacker, including fruity mixes that are prepared with fruit liqueurs, but the traditional recipe uses rum, creme de cacao, coffee liqueur, milk and cream of coconut. Its smooth, icy finish and notes of chocolate, vanilla and coffee make it a mainstay of beach resort menus the world over.

To prepare a classic Bushwacker, you’ll need to blend together two cups of ice with two ounces each of Kahlúa, dark rum, crème de cacao, cream of coconut and milk. Once you’re left with a smooth mix, decant it into a hurricane glass. You can serve with a maraschino cherry or even top it with whipped cream and sprinkles if you’re looking to get in touch with your inner child — but either way, you’re in for a treat.