As winter grabs hold and your customers are forced to contend with howling Arctic winds and frostbitten extremities, crank up the heat with warm spirited drink specialties. Dust off the coffee grinder because your clientele will soon be knocking on your bar looking for hot bracers to invigorate their flagging constitutions.
Starting with the best tasting coffee possible is essential. For optimum results use freshly ground coffee. Coffee beans rapidly lose their flavor once ground, so whenever possible, grind beans just prior to brewing. While noisy, grinding coffee conveys freshness, quality and value, not to mention it smells wonderful. Both whole beans and ground coffee should be kept refrigerated.
Americans are turning off to caffeine in droves. Today’s customers fully expect decaffeinated coffee to be available and every bit as good as the regular house coffee. Offer both.
Another tip from the pros is to brew smaller amounts of coffee more frequently. Sitting on a burner hour after unattended hour, coffee deteriorates into an acidic, bitter, burnt-tasting offense. Instead of brewing 240 cups at the beginning of the shift, brew one or two pots an hour. If at all possible, brew your coffee with spring or softened water. The hard mineral content in tap water adversely affects the flavor of coffee. Soft water will also extend the life expectancy of your equipment.
Always preheat your glassware with simmering hot water. Or throughout the evening keep your cups, saucers, mugs, and demitasses mouth down on the vent-tray on top of the espresso machine. Preheating prevents glasses and ceramic ware from cracking due to thermal shock.
Creating Sensational Hot Specialties
Creating delicious coffee-based signature drinks need not be a complicated process. To begin with, there is a vast array of liquors and liqueurs that work well in coffee. Brandy, rum and whiskey are natural complements to coffee, as are Kahlúa and Tia Maria, a Jamaican rum-based liqueur flavored with Blue Mountain coffee beans. Brands such as Café Lolita or Copa de Ora are also equal to the task.
While there are scores of fabulous coffee-based drink recipes, several stand-out as absolutely indispensable. The Keoki Coffee is an enduring classics, and with good reason. It’s made with equal parts of Kahlúa, brandy, creme de cacao, and hot coffee, a blend of ingredients that marry beautifully with the robust flavor of coffee. The Irish Coffee is another hot classic made with a touch of sugar, Irish whiskey, coffee, and whipped cream. Also falling on the incomparable end of the spectrum are the Caribbean Dream, a drink featuring Myers’s Jamaican rum, creme de banana, creme de cacao and coffee, and the Calypso Coffee (a.k.a. the Spanish Coffee), a delicious blend of light rum, Tia Maria, and coffee.
Two piping hot crowd-pleasers are the Bay Area Garter, a blend of Kahlúa, Godiva chocolate liqueur, Frangelico, a drizzle of Hershey’s syrup and coffee, and the Peter Prescription, a lavish combination of Tia Maria, Grand Marnier, a splash of Chambord and Myers’s rum topped with freshly brewed coffee.
One of the more alluring offerings is the Montego Bay, a savory blend of hot coffee, Tia Maria, Myers’s rum and creme de banana. Another popular favorite is the Aspen Coffee, a blend of Bailey’s, Kahlúa and Frangelico. Consider also the Café Kingston and Millionaire’s Coffee. Both feature a superb combination of rich, robust coffee and a small slew of liqueurs.
There has yet to be a winter chill that can penetrate the bracing fortitude of the Northern Lights, a hardy libation with origins in the Great Northwest. The heart and backbone of this drink is Yukon Jack, the 100 proof Canadian liqueur, a product created to ward off the inhospitable northern nights.
Warding off winter doldrums is also effortless with the warmth and insulation of such fabulous concoctions as the following:
Tight Sweater (Frangelico, Kahlúa, Di Saronno Amaretto, Bailey’s and coffee)
38th Parallel (Chambord, Bailey’s, creme de cacao, brandy, and coffee)
Royal Street Cafe (Kahlúa, Di Saronno Amaretto, nutmeg, and coffee)
Abbey Road (Chambord, Di Saronno Amaretto, Kahlúa, and coffee).