Coffee and whiskey are natural companions -- just think of old favorites like Irish Coffee and Aggravation. Often, brewed coffee or a coffee liqueur are the ingredients responsible for the coffee flavor, but why not add that little touch of java to the whiskey itself?
Coffee-infused bourbon is one of my favorite ways to get a gentle coffee flavor into whiskey cocktails and is useful in a variety of non-infused drinks such as a Manhattan, Liquid Bourbon Ball, Fall Spice Cordial or even a simple Bourbon and Water. Also, the coffee infusion is not limited to bourbon. Other whiskies such as other American whiskies, Canadian whiskey, and even some Irish whiskey are also good candidates for a little coffee jolt. See below for more tips.
- Pour the bourbon into an infusion jar, large mason jar or another wide-mouthed container with a tight seal.
- Add the coffee beans, seal the container and shake well.
- Place the jar in a cool dark place for about 24 hours.
- Taste the infusion and if you think it needs a little more time, shake it again and allow it to set for another 8 hours. Check it again and repeat this step until you have the flavor you want.
- When the infusion is to your liking, strain the coffee beans through a fine strainer from the whiskey.
- Return the whiskey to its original bottle, cap it and enjoy it any cocktail you see fit.
- I prefer to use coffee beans that are darker such as Spanish and French roasts. These tend to be richer than the lighter roasts and pair better with whiskey.
- To test a whiskey/bean combination without wasting a lot of whiskey, try a smaller batch first. Pour a couple of shots of whiskey in a smaller jar and add a handful of coffee beans. Allow this to infuse and see what you like. Do this with multiple whiskey and bean combinations at once, clearly labeling each, then taste each in succession and decide which you like best. After that, you're ready to infuse a large batch of your favorite.
- When choosing a whiskey for this infusion it's best to try ones that are smooth and not too spicy. For bourbons, Woodford Reserve and Buffalo Trace are two of my favorites. For Canadian whiskies, try Canadian Mist or Canadian Club, while Bushmill's, Kilbeggan, and Jameson are excellent options for Irish whiskies.
- Though you may be inclined to do so, I do not recommend mixing this coffee infusion into drinks that already contain coffee. It may work, but defeats the purpose of flavoring your whiskey with coffee because coffee is already there. Instead, think of complementary flavors such as almond, banana, chestnut, kumquat and orange.