We love White Russians as much as the next Dude, but we think they can be better. All it takes is swapping out the usual Kahlúa for a delicious craft coffee liqueur. There are many distillers out there making beautiful bittersweet coffee liqueurs that taste just as good sipped solo as they do in cocktails. Here are five of our favorites.
New Orleans is famous for its chicory root coffee. St. George distiller Dave Smith recreated those woody, earthy flavors in his NOLA Coffee Liqueur. Roasted Yirgacheffe coffee beans, French chicory root, Madagascar vanilla beans and organic cane sugar come together to make a deeply complex coffee liqueur. With layers of roasted flavors, the liqueur has an underlying bitterness that’s rounded out with a sweet, fruity finish.
Cardinal Spirits co-founder Adam Quirk craved an alternative to the overly sweet coffee booze on the market. So, like any good innovator, he decided to make his own. While Songbird’s liqueur still packs some serious sweetness, its notes of caramel, vanilla and chocolate add cozy depth to White Russians. It also makes a great substitute for regular old coffee in other cocktails.
New Deal’s coffee liqueur is drier and smoother than most, and a personal favorite of many Supercall team members. Made with a custom cold brew blend from Water Avenue Coffee, organic cane sugar and agave, it’s just as good sipped neat as it is mixed in cocktails. Warming, earthy notes of roasted nut and honeycomb make it a perfect cold weather digestif.
For an Intense White Russian: Mr Black ($38)
The coffee used in this Australian-made liqueur is entirely cold-extracted, uses a higher coffee-to-water ratio and spends more time steeping than traditional cold brew. The liqueur is bitter but balanced with chocolate, caramel and citrus, and it finishes with toffee and marmalade. Mix it into a White Russian or with mezcal for a smoky treat.
For a Coffee Lover’s White Russian: Firelit Coffee Liqueur ($40)
This liqueur was made for the true coffee lover. The spirit starts with deep, dark 18-hour cold brew made with a rotating selection of high-end coffee beans. Distillers blend the coffee with a Chardonnay-based brandy, then age the mix in stainless steel tanks for a full month to let the flavors mellow and merge before bottling. Notes of dark roast coffee are met with flavors of nuts and bitter cocoa powder, with the slightest hint of cane sugar to brighten things up.
Turkish coffee is meant to be sipped slowly and savored so that its rich intensity can be enjoyed to the fullest. That’s exactly the type of experience Vivacity wants you to have when sipping their heady coffee liqueur. It starts with locally-roasted coffee (those Pacific Northwesterners know how to do it right) which is freshly ground with cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks. One sip, and you’ll be transported to a faraway land as its exotic flavors wash over your palate.
It seems that everyone these days is ditching hot coffee for cold brew. While we would never give up our steaming cup of joe, we’d certainly take a splash of Conker Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur in our White Russian. Because the Brazilian and Ethiopian coffee beans that go into this spirit are cold brewed, all acidic, bitter elements are left behind. The result is a rich coffee liqueur with subtle fruit and chocolate notes that is downright addicting.