Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Happy Hour: Spike Your Coffee

Some people mark it with the first BBQ of the season, but I know summer is just around the corner when I stop ordering my coffee "hot, and, oh, can you throw a couple of ice cubes in there to cool it off?" — does anyone else do this? I'm sure someone does! — and start ordering it "iced, but with very little ice. No, less than that. A little less. Even less! Haha, I know. Almost no ice." (I like my beverages within a few degrees of room temperature. Someone once told me this was a European thing, so I will go with that.)

Anyway, I find this iced coffee order really distressing because I'm positive the baristas think I'm cheap and just want the most caffeine bang for my buck, so I end up exerting a lot of physical energy during my order making self-deprecating hand gestures, and then say, "yeah, that's fine" even when there are still clearly at least eight ice cubes in the cup, and then put like $9 in the tip jar because I hate myself. So for that reason, among others, I tend to have my first cup of the day at home. Which means that not only can I add or throw out as much ice as I want, I can also add as much booze as I want.

There are lots of spiked coffee recipes out there, but here are two (yes!) of my recent favorites, one with coffee and one with espresso. One of those small 200ml bottles of Kahlúa is plenty to make both drinks, but I will say that I’ve found that the size of the liquor bottle and the frequency with which you visit your local liquor store correlates with what the liquor store cashier thinks of you.

Anyway! On to the recipes. Resist the temptation to add sugar to either of these — the Kahlúa adds the perfect amount of sweetness. Disclaimer: You don't have to drink these in the morning and, in fact, I encourage you not to if you have the sort of job that requires you to operate machinery or sit mostly upright.

Kahlúa Iced Coffee
2 parts Kahlúa
2 parts chilled coffee
1 part milk or cream

Directions: Serve over ice in a tall glass.

Kahlúa Espresso Martini
1.5 parts Kahlúa
1 part Absolut Vodka
1 freshly brewed espresso (I interpret “freshly brewed” to mean from the coffee shop around the corner.)

Directions: Fill a shaker with ice, add Kahlúa, Absolut, and a fresh-brewed espresso. Shake vigorously, and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Ta-da — simple and delicious. Now when you make plans to meet friends for coffee you can make air quotes around the for coffee part.

Previously: DIY Apple-Infused Spiced Rum.

Diana Vilibert is a freelance drinker and writer in Brooklyn.

Photos courtesy Kahlúa.

99 Comments / Post A Comment


This makes me wish that I did not have to sit mostly upright at my job.


I'm torn between the open disdain and silent mockery versus the liquor store clerk knowing exactly what you buy and running for it when they see you coming. Or saying "having people over?", when it's just me and Netflix.

Diana Vilibert

@shenannies: Ahhhh, this brings back a traumatic memory. Me and a bag of Tostitos on a Saturday night, and the deli cashier asked if I was going to a party. I lied and said yes.


@Diana Vilibert Last Saturday I went into my usual shop with my guy friend who's gay, clerk screamed out "aaah, I meet your boyfriend!". Was so pleased to have him think I wasn't drinking vino on the couch alone I went with it. Shame.


@shenannies My liquor store clerk used to smile and wave goodbye to me every time as he called out, "SEE YOU TOMORROW!" He thought this was hilarious. One time I had a male friend with me; he was not impressed.


@shenannies One time I was alone, on my way to a party, buying various snacks and mixers for drinks and the cashier asked me if I was going to have a fun night in. I'm still offended.


@shenannies We need a "The best time I cried in embarrassment after leaving a liquor store" post now. We've all been there.


@shenannies: This is why about the only day of the year I'm not ashamed to take out the recycling is New Year's Day. I'm hoping my neighbors assume I just had a big party, when in fact, all those bottles were consumed by me - in front of the computer or TV, with a cat sitting in my lap.


@shenannies There are always a few days during the nicer weather months that I have been to the liquor store three times in the same day... and I wasn't buying mini-bottles. DON'T YOU JUDGE ME LIKE THEY JUDGE ME.

Does anyone else make sure there is a liquor store in close walking distance when choosing a new apartment? That CAN'T be just me...


@shenannies Find a new liquor store! If I felt that a storeperson was looking down on my purchases, I'd never go back.

I've been patronizing the same store for years now even though I haven't lived in that neighborhood for a while because the clerks remember me and what I like (and sometimes throw in a new beer or airplane bottle to try, for free).


@Vicky Johnson Thank you! I worked in a very nice wine shop for years (we also had a small selection of beer and liquor). I loved our regulars (well, most of them), and whenever we got in something I thought they might like within their normal budget, I couldn't wait to open a bottle for them to sample. There is no need to put up with the judgement!


@curryspice Oh no, thank YOU! Kind, helpful, and knowledgeable folks like you have introduced me to some of my favorite drinks.


@shenannies Worse? Last week, I picked up some booze with my cousin. My usual cashier gave me a mischievous "Guuurrrlll...." look 'cause she obviously thought he was my boyfriend.

It takes more than one handle of vodka to clear that from your brain.


@shenannies I had a friend Tony who bought a pint like every other day from this 7-11 run my mostly older Vietnamese ladies. One time he's 10 cents short to get his pint so he asks one of the ladies if it's OK if he's ten cents short and owes them. They are like "No problem".

Now whenever he goes there they are all "Hey, Ten Cent Tony, how you doing today".


@Vicky Johnson this is one of the worst parts of living in stupid Pennsylvania! there is only one liquor store that is convenient to my neighborhood. I'd have to go way out of my way to change stores!


@LagunaBitch re:"The best time I cried in embarrassment after leaving a liquor store"
Once, the cashier at my liquor store looked at my ID, looked at me, and then asked, "So, are you like a legal midget?!" ...I'm 5'1". She proceeded to ask if I get special notation on my license plates.


Mmm.. espresso martinis are one of my all time fave drinks. Put a little espresso bean on top if you're feeling fancy.

elysian fields

These look super delicious but I can't figure out the right time of day to drink them. In the morning the alcohol would eff me up, and after 5 the caffeine would ruin my ability to sleep for the next 12 hours. So I guess this beverage would be perfect for times when I want to get drunk AND stay up all night. Noted!


@elysian fields 3pm on a saturday!


@elysian fields Maybe for brunch? Daytime drinking is like being on vacation! From your life!


@punkahontas I honestly love this so much, I'm going to quote you in an FB status.


As someone who works in a liquor store, that thing about the mini bottles is entirely true, but mostly it's the dudes who are obviously alcoholics who buy like, 25 random mini bottles of Smirnoff. Like what is wrong with you, don't you know you get much better value just buy getting at least a pint? Mostly we'll just judge you for your poor fiscal choices.


@descie This cracks me up. I had a friend who worked as a clerk in a liqour store in college, he always had great stories about faking out under age kids trying to buy booze.

Yankee Peach

@descie My family owned a liquor store for years and we used to save our disdain and silent mockery for the guys in the Armani suits rummaging through the $5.99 discount wine bins. Our favorite customers were always the ones who seemed to be shopping to fill a basket for a Top Chef elimination challenge.


@descie So when I buy a decent bottle or two of wine and then just casually grab a few nips at the register, I'm not fooling anyone?


@Yankee Peach And this is the reason why a good 1/5 of my salary now goes to booze (oh who am I kidding, it's now about up to half). I work at a nice liquor and wine store, so we get a ton of old white dudes buying 3 crates of wine at a time, and good shit too. If your wine bill comes up to $800 AFTER a discount for buying more than 12 bottles, can we be friends?

Lily Rowan

I have put Bailey's in my coffee on a weekend morning. Makes for a strangely relaxed day.


@Lily Rowan Baileys in coffee is divine.

When my friend got married a few years ago, I was the only person at my table to ask for coffee after dinner. When I came back from the bar with a shot of Baileys to dump into my coffee, everyone else at the table's eyes widened, and then shouted for the server to bring coffees for everyone.


@Lily Rowan I love baileys in hot chocolate too. Baileys in eggnog is also strangely good, I am a wuss when it comes to booze so I like Baileys and their ilk.


@Lily Rowan ngl, I had a Bailey's-spiked coffee the morning of my (written) grad-school comps... to calm me down? While also sort of amping me up? I dunno. In retrospect, I wasn't really thinking too clearly, but I passed anyway!

femme cassidy

@Lily Rowan Coffee with Bailey's is my freaking religion. It's the absolute best for hangovers while camping ("camping" always means "everybody goes into the woods and drinks like crazy," right?).


@Clare Ha! When I got married, I insisted that there be at least one bottle of Bailey's at (one of the) bar(s) so that I could have it in my coffee after dinner. And so the lovely people at the resort made sure there was also a bottle just for me at the rehearsal dinner, that the bartender produced triumphantly the first time I approached him.

I'm thinking it's charming that so many of my happy memories involve the easy availability to me of my favorites alcohols? Yup! Charming.


I love coffee and I love booze.

However one thing in this world I loathe: cold coffee. So these just don't do it for me. That and I drink my coffee black, the idea of adding anything to it (other than whiskey) just grosses me out.


@ReginaSavage: Agreed.


@ReginaSavage What, have you people been drinking hot coffee poured over ice or something? Cold drip!


If you have any Kahlua left, you can make a Revolver cocktail for after work:

2 ounces bourbon (Elijah Craig if you have it)
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur
2 to 3 dashes orange bitters (Fee Brothers)
Combine all ingredients in a glass with ice and stir.
Garnish with orange peel if you're trying to impress someone.


@RocketSurgeon YES.

elysian fields

Also: everyone knows about cold-brewed iced coffee, right? Right?? If you don't, please try it. It's dead simple and you'll never want to make iced coffee any other way again. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/27/dining/276drex.html


@elysian fields I tried that method a few years go and I hated the results :(


@elysian fields Yes and Yes. I was just about to mention that drip-brewed coffee should never be combined with ice to become "iced coffee" as that is disgusting. Cold brewing FTW. And with that, I'm off to PJ's to get some.


@alpelican PJ's iced coffee is so good I'm actually really suspicious of it.

Since moving to New Orleans, I think about 2/3rds of my income has gone to purchasing iced coffee. (this is in addition to the cold brewing I do at home.)


@alpelican @elysian fields: Yes it is damned good, I tried making it once last summer when it was a bazillion degrees and was like OMG this is amazing this is what we're drinking all summer. It was too much work and cleanup though, so I just gave up. Plus it uses like 2x as much coffee - and I am too lazy.


@alpelican @MousesHouse We need to have a NOLA hairpin meetup! I'm too cheap for PJs (although I know PJ...the founder of the Green Project!) so I buy CoolBrew.


@redkite I am organizing one! I think in June? Email me at hey.alpelican at gmail dot com.


@alpelican I make iced coffee by brewing in a drip cone filter over ice. It works fine, you just add more ground coffee than you usually would, and more ice after because at least half of will have melted by the end. It's easy and not gross!


@redkite CoolBrew is so expensive though too! You should try the method in that nytimes article link. I mean, basically it's just "let coffee sit in water for like 6 hours and then strain out the grinds." and then bam! something that is sort of like CoolBrew, especially if you use a chicory & coffee mix. I use the super cheap CDM kind that comes in a brick and it is awesome.

I would do a meetup!


@MousesHouse mark your calendar for Thursday June 9! Location TBD.

NOLA Hairpinners, does June 9 work for y'all? Come on there's only like six of us?

hot mess

@elysian fields de-lurking - make that 7 NOLA folks... I'm in!


@elysian fields While we're talking about cold-brew coffee, you DO realize you can do the same thing with vodka, right? Just cut out the middleman.


@alpelican I'm in! Are you guys suspicious that we're all going to know each other?

@dinos Would that be good, ya'll?

hot mess

@MousesHouse I'm totally sure. How many of y'all are marigny/bywater?


@all of you God damn it people. I will definitely not be home for the 9th. Oh well. Also, trust NOLA people to know how to make iced coffee. As a former PJ's employee, I will disclose that they put vanilla extract in the cold drip.

Tuna Surprise

The only time I have ever bought mini-bottles I went to great pains to purchase two higher priced bottles of wine at the same time so the clerk could clearly see that I was having a dinner party and needed a few mini-bottles of bourbon for my dessert. Clearly.


But the mini bottles are so darned cute! I have a miniature liquor cabinet just because I think it's hilarious. I am easily amused.

elysian fields

@Kakapo oh. my. God. How about a mini liquor cabinet/bar for American Girl dolls? Someone please make this happen and provide photographic evidence.


@Kakapo I just had a beautiful image of riding my bike with a wood cabinet backpack full of tiny liquor bottles strapped to my back.

How illegal do you think an unlicensed traveling liquor store would be? Can I claim "art project"? Could I just show up places and suddenly be really popular?



@Kakapo mini liquor cabinets are great! my boyfriend and i drink from the mini liquor bottles and pretend to be hagrid and madame maxime (mostly i pretend that. he just drinks like a normal person)


@Kakapo I love mini bottles too! I like to pretend I'm a giant trying the strange elixir of a miniature society (or Smurfs). This also works in reverse with 40s.

Lily Rowan

Oh, I am also a fan of lukewarm coffee! When I make iced at home, I take it out of the fridge, and put no ice into it at all. Delish.

tiny dancer

BTW, does anyone know the rationale behind charging more for iced coffee? It kills me because you get less coffee (at least the places I've been). They can't seriously be charging that much more for ice, right? The whole thing fills me with rage. (And thank you for the lovely recipe! I can't wait to make one.)


@tiny dancer It's the understanding of this once and future barista that iced coffee costs more because the plastic cups are more expensive than the paper cups hot coffee is served in. It still drives me crazy when I buy iced coffee, even knowing that, and I drink that ish by the gallon.


If you want to be a cheap asshole, I've seen people order a paper cup with ice, then a shot of espresso. Dump the shot in the cup and fill up with a ton of free milk haha.


While I'd like to second making your own cold-brewed iced coffee at home (cheaper! easier better! makes you feel all empowered and self-sufficient!) I think the reasoning behind charging more is the labor that goes into it. Brewing coffee is fairly low-maintenance, depending on the establishment, but making iced coffee takes anywhere from a few hours to a day or two and requires extra rounds of filtering and storage. When I worked at a coffee shop, we'd often have to throw out huge quantities of iced coffee that hadn't been sold within a few days, since they picked up 'off' flavors from the fridge pretty quickly. Maybe it was just a terrible coffee shop, but that could be built into the cost as well.

And that is probably more than you ever wanted to know about why iced coffee is expensive!

tiny dancer

@melis No, this is all good thank you. I was just extra mad because one of the places I was getting it from definitely didn't cold brew so it was hard for me to see extra cost. Anyway! Problem solved because now I straight cold brew that stuff in my french press. Easy and much less frustrating! Eventually when I have a job I'll buy a bigger toddy device to brew in larger quantities. And this is probably more than you wanted to know about my brewing habits.

Kelley Pounders@facebook

...I have been known to engage the liquor store clerk in conversation about which vodka/whiskey/whatever I'm buying would be the best to cook with even though I have never cooked with liquor in my life. Pretty sure they think I live on vodka chicken.


I'm off coffee at the moment in a last-ditch attempt to get rid of a twitchy eye (its either caffeine or stress, and I'm really not stressed). So this means when I am boozing at inappropriate times and people judge me I can look offended and tell them its my new caffeine-free coffee? Yes?


@rayray I suffer from the eye twitch every few years. Mine is brought on by a combination of stress, looking at the computer all day without doing the 30/30/30 rest, and too little sleep. It could never be my precious caffeine.


@Elizabon I too get the eye twitch! Generally caused by stress and hating my job and boyfriend and life. Right now I'm okay.


@rayray I see everyone's eye twitch and raise you a chin twitch. I had one for an entire week this month, and promptly took a vacation.


Ah thank god I'm not a freak. I've only had it before when doing exams and therefore concluded it was stress, but its been going on a while now. I really don't want to conclude that my job, which is my first proper job in my chosen profession and which I really enjoy, is stressing me out, so I'll take your suggestion of computer eye strain, Elizabon. Probs I should just get my eyes re-tested and sit drinking buckets of coffee with a sexy new pair of glasses.


@rayray Team eye twitch! I get mine when I'm stressed (which is kind of always), so I'm beginning to think maybe it's just permanent. Who knows. I have other muscle twitches, so maybe it's natural.

God. Between being super pale and twitching all the time, people must think I'm so strung out.


@Elizabon What's the 30/30/30 rest? I stare at a screen all gd day, and that sounds like something I could use.


@dinos Every 30 minutes of screen-staring, take a break and focus on something 30 feet away for 30 seconds. Time, distance, and duration can vary, it's the idea of resting your eyes that matters. I have a window nearby that I can see the mountains through, and I try to look at them multiple times a day. I find this helps stave off eye twitches AND headaches. And promotions. From not accomplishing anything at work. I kid. Rest your eyes.


There is a wine store in the building I work in, and the other day I decided to buy TWO bottles of wine and for some reason felt obligated to make up this elaborate story to the cashier about how sparkling wine is just more "fun" and how I was having a bunch of people over for dinner.

I was just going to watch Weeds on my laptop with my cats.

Dana Galbraith@facebook

"I like my men like I like my coffee; slightly above room temperature." - a joke I made up to fend off ridicule when people notice that I wait a full half hour before starting on a coffee.
I thought I was the only one!


One time I made a pinata and filled it with mini liquor bottles and cigarettes. Man oh man did I get a look of disapproval from that clerk.


@parallel-lines That sounds like the best pinata that has ever been made.


@parallel-lines : Most amazing bachelorette party idea EVER.


I did something very similar for my Birthday, except because none of my friends smoke, it was Mini-Liquor Bottles (Make sure they are the plastic ones, Malibu and Baileys work well) Condoms (Free from Planned Parenthood, and they literally were willing to give me almost an entire grocery bag full) and then candy. It was amazing.

Can I also add my favorite drink recipe? It's for when I know I am too stressed out to sleep, but don't want to take sleeping drugs

Southern Irish
1 oz. Southern Comfort (Or do as I do and eyeball it!)
1 oz Baileys
Hot Chocolate or Coffee

Good Luck standing after that one....

Artressa Vandelay

This makes me feel so much better about how often I bring in down to liquerville! I think the most disapproving looks I've recevied were at a Starbucks when I pulled a flask out of my boot and added some whiskey to my coffee. Oh, and I was dressed as Mrs. Clause at the time.


One of the few (only?) benefits to living in SF as opposed to Manhattan: Safeway deliveries can include wine and liquor. I just discovered this and it has changed my life. Every week or two, I order 8-10 bottles of wine, some bourbon and vodka and maybe a few dozen rolls of t.p.

This is not only convenient - I get better wine at a lower price than I can get at the crummy superette across from apartment. Plus, I no longer have to risk crossing the street if I decide that one bottle wasn't quite enough for that particular evening. I've still got 8 bottles sitting on my counter.

Also, tipping the delivery guy is prohibited. And so far, they don't seem to judge me. I figure that since I live ghetto-adjacent and have a nicely appointed apartment, they think I'm having a party. But the joke's on them! I don't have any friends... Anyway, where's my corkscrew? Oh, nevermind - this one has a screwtop (my favorite!).

elysian fields

@ejcsanfran oh man, this is making me kind of sad because I'm a Bay Area girl trapped on the east coast for probably the rest of my life, and I weirdly miss shopping at Safeway.


@ejcsanfran That's what we have FreshDirect for, darlin'! I get cases of wines AND beer. And if the drivers think I'm an alcoholic shut-in, that's really just fine with me.


WHO CARES what a barrista or liquor store worker thinks of you?? Honestly. Sometimes the level of insecurity around here is a little ridiculous. I get that most (some? all?) of the self-deprecation is for humor's sake, but Hairpin, as much as I love you, if you're listening: the tone of this website is starting to verge on the truly pathetic.

Like, enough already with the "I'm so pathetic/my thighs have cellulite/can't do anything right/being a girl is SO HARD/I sit home and drink alone in some sad version of a Cathy cartoon" vibe. I think the Ladies around here are WAY more awesome than all this boohoo woe is me shit. Far as I can tell most people on here frigging ROCK. Let's talk about that!!

Diana Vilibert

@NYnative: Look for my column next week, where I will self-deprecatingly weave in my insecurities about Hairpin commenters commenting on my insecurities.

Kidding! I do think I (and all the other Hairpin ladies) frigging rock. I just have a lot of feelings.


This is why Choire has a tag for the eternal problem of conveying tone on the Internet.


Hairpin, O Hairpin: where did all the kick-ass go?


@NYnative This was my number one pet peeve when I worked at Starbucks. Every other customer wanted me to know that the large frappucino with whipped cream was just a treat, like oh god I'm being soooo naughty today, do you think I'm fat? I guess it's nice that you're even considering the opinions of your minimum-wage server but there are people in line behind you.


@RocketSurgeon, that Revolver cocktail up there sounds fantastic.


Has no one here yet mentioned Van Gogh Espresso Vodka? [crickets ... crickets ...] Recipe:

One pint Guinness
One shot Van Gogh Espresso Vodka
x 3 = down and out, but DELICIOUSLY SO.

Diana Vilibert

@fierce_pierce: I loooove Van Gogh Espresso Vodka. I have a bottle in my fridge. It's great with chocolate liqueur.


@fierce_pierce oh man, I was just going to comment about the Van Gogh Espresso Vodka. Just drink it on ice! Don't even mix it with anything! No shame.


@Diana Vilibert It is so good with everything. Or, as @contrary says, on ice! And don't worry. I have little to zero shame at any point, especially with booze.


I love drinking iced coffee in the morning and all kinds of booze at night so you've just revealed the perfect transitions to me.

tea tray in the sky.

If it makes you feel better about iced coffee, re: caffeine bang for your buck, Starbucks iced coffee is brewed at double (double!) strength to offset the dilution from the ice cubes. If you order it with no ice, you still get chilled coffee, and it will be double strength, and not too cold! Sincerely, A Starbucks Barista

tea tray in the sky.

The way I signed that made it look like I was trying to be A Lady or A Spider. I'm not! Just a humble coffee source!


at the end of college my school sent us on two evening outings to places with heavy booze restrictions so me and my friends went to the liquor store to buy millions of tiny bottles of booze to sneak in places (we would put them in the crotch of our pants). we bought out the entire stock of several brands and the DISDAIN and confusion was amazing. So I told the cashier that we were shooting a film. set on an airplane. i think it was the funniest thing i've ever said? i think she believed me. or at least i'm pretending she did.


Laughs. Hahaha.

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