Orange Liqueurs & Coffee

I was revisiting a blog I wrote a couple years ago about orange-flavored liqueurs, and in the course of my research I found that some of the high-end ones were recommended as mixers with coffee. So I taste-tested a few to find out if I'd been missing anything.

The coffee I used was Starbux's Gazebo roast, which is a medium-body, summer roast. I brew my coffee moderately strong, though not as strong as Starbux does.

The first liqueur I tried with my coffee (approximately 3/4 oz of liqueur in each case; I just poured it in and didn't bother to measure) was Grand Marnier. Usually I wouldn't waste expensive GM as a mixer with coffee. I got a slight orange taste from it, and the cognac base hit the back of my throat. It didn't seem to have a decided orange smell, unlike the next two I tried.

Next was Cointreau, about the same amount of both liqueur and coffee. I could smell the orange here, and this gave the coffee a decidedly sweeter orange flavor. Cointreau is officially a triple sec, after all. I didn't get the cognac bite like I did with GM.

Last came Mandarine Napoléon. This wasn't quite as fragrant as the Cointreau. It gave the coffee a definite sweet orange flavor, but not as much and subtler than Cointreau. It also seemed to blend better with the coffee. Of course, I'd drunk the equivalents of two shots, so maybe my taste buds were just feeling happy. For me, MN with the gazebo blend was the best marriage of the three I tried.

Mandarine Napoléon Drinks

I had my collection of orange-flavored liqueurs out, taste testing for an article, and I decided to try a couple simple Mandarine Napoléon cocktails. MN (so I don't have to mess with the screwy e anymore) is one of the subtlest of the orange liqueurs, with a distinctive flavor and not as strong of a cognac flavor as Cointreau or Grand Marnier.

The first was just 3/4 oz MN on ice, filled with tonic. I wasn't turned on at first by the taste of quinine and orange, but the drink grew on me as I sipped my way through it. This would make a great summertime cocktail.

Drink #2 had a bit more kick: 7-year Distillers Series Jim Beam 2-to-1 with MN over ice. Also a nice cocktail (for any season), and it doesn't taste like bourbon and OJ. A great combination of flavors.

Vie (no 'en') Rose Cocktail

The ICDB recipe generator pulled up the Vie Rose cocktail yesterday, so I tried it:

  • 3 parts gin (I used Amsterdam)
  • 3 parts Kirsch (I used good French stuff)
  • 2 parts lemon juice
  • 2 parts grenadine (giving it the rose/cherry color)

It was OK, but I didn't really like it and drank only about half before I tossed it. The kirsch flavor was very subtle, but too much lemon came through.  I noticed that too in the recipes I made from the daily calendar a couple years ago: either my taste buds are very sensitive to citrus, or else recipes call for too much lemon. Cut the lemon, and it would make a nice after-dinner cocktail.

Capt Kidd Cocktail

I used Internet Cocktail Database's random cocktail generator again, and came up with the Captain Kidd cocktail.  (I came up with other ones first that I didn't have all the ingredients for.)  I decided to try it because the combination of ingredients looks so bizarre:

  • 1 1/2 oz dark rum
  • 1/2 oz Scotch
  • 1/2 oz dry sherry
  • Dash of orange bitters

Stir in a glass of ice and strain.

Dark rum, Scotch, and sherry:  a drink only a pirate would drink?

I used blackstrap rum, but only because I was out of Myer's. I had a medium sherry on hand and an inexpensive single-malt Scotch.  No orange bitters, so I used regular bitters with a drizzle of orange flower water, which I couldn't taste under the rum.  I doubt I would have been able to taste orange bitters either.

This is more of a novelty drink than a series one.  I could taste the sherry through the rum, and the combination wasn't bad but not great.  If I'd had Myer's, that probably would have given a mellower flavor.

1 dubloon rating for this one.

Sangaree Comfort

I remembered that Internet Cocktail Database has a random recipe generator, so I gave that a try yesterday.  I pulled up a Sangaree Comfort, which sounded good to me.

Sangarees are usually a mix of basic liquors on ice, filled with soda (as in pop) or soda (as in water), and port floated on top.  Sometimes a sprinkle of nutmeg is called for.  This recipe didn't call for the port, and I skipped the nutmeg; I didn't want to have to wash my nutmeg scraper-thingee.

Southern Comfort is my summer drink of choice (the regular proof version; I had a bottle of the higher proof last year and didn't like it nearly as much).  February seems a weird time to be drinking it, but I gave this recipe a whirl.

It's pretty simple:

  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz Southern Comfort
  • 1/4 oz peach brandy
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Stir or shake on ice, fill with lemon-lime soda, sprinkle with nutmeg
As I said, I skipped the nutmeg.  For the bourbon, I used small batch Jack.  I didn't have peach brandy sitting around and don't use it often enough to run out and get some, so I substituted peach liqueur, and since the liqueur is very sweet, I left out the sugar.  Instead of lemon-lime soda, I used ginger ale.  Any more changes and I'd have to call this a different recipe, I guess.

I shook up a double batch, which had a lot of buzz power.  The ginger ale sort of covered the peach flavor; lemon-lime soda like 7 Up probably wouldn't hide the peach as much, but I could still tell that what I was drinking wasn't just ginger ale and bourbon.

This would be a good summer drink, especially made with lemon-lime soda or even lemonade.  Floating port might not be a bad thing either.

Change of Plans

You may have noticed from my masthead that I've changed my drinking plans for this year.  Instead of concentrating on whiskey and gin drinks, I'm going to go back to trying a different cocktail every day, 365 total.  Instead of using a daily calendar, like I did in 2008, I'm going to depend on Internet Cocktail Database, and I'll make up for January and the first week of this month by indulging in 3-drink weekends.  Woo hoo!

So all good things start with gin, and I started last night with a gin sidecar (sidecars are usually made with brandy, you'll remember):  1 oz gin, 3/4 oz curacao, 3/4 oz lemon juice.  For the gin, I used Bombay dry gin.

Not a bad little drink, though I think I'll stick with brandy-based sidecars:  the drink tasted a bit like a citrus soda/pop, along the lines of Squirt.  It didn't hit the spot in the middle of winter, but I bet it would on a sticky summer day.