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Coffee, Neat

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

At one random afternoon, I mixed a tiny shot of whiskey into a lemon iced tea. It is about 10~15mL. I did this for the sole sake of emptying the small bottle of whiskey that had been sitting in my bag for quite a long time. (Yes, that's how much I love whisk(e)y)😉 The bottle is about three quarters through so it is killing me to see the whiskey sitting in a high air to liquid ratio environment. Little do I know by that time, this lead to a journey of mixing whisk(e)y into tea/coffee.

I dumped the bourbon in and gave it a little stir. Thinking it will have little to no impact to the lemon iced tea as it is in such a small quantity, the result blew my mind.

The bourbon and iced tea formed a better sum of its parts. The vanilla hand camel added a layer of sweetness in the nose and not too over powering to the point that the lemon note is disappeared. In the month it is not just dominated by any one of the ingredients.

They formed a equilibrium in the mouth which kept on shifting back and forth between the camel sweetness in the bourbon and the acidity from the lemon. The bitter note from the tea chime in from time to time which gave the drink more body.

Since then, I began to research on the whisk(e)y spiked beverage. And without a doubt, loads of material regarding Irish coffee popped up. Given my abundant material available at hand, I decided to give coffee and whisky a go.

So the next morning, I did a standard 2 oz pour to the 180 mL coffee I normally drink in the morning. The result is less than amazing. The vanilla and camel note don't really shine through the coffee. I guess it's my bad to use instant coffee. Nonetheless, it's definitely not as amazing as that lemon iced tea.

Later on, many ideas begin to emerges.

To begin with, upgrading the coffee. I brought an entry level grinder and a French press vessel which fits my budget perfectly at the time. It instantly improved quality of the coffee.

After upgrading to the French press, I poured myself a cup of French press and spiked it with a shot of bourbon. It is better than the instant coffee trial but still no match to the greatness of that lemon tea.

Given the setback of the last trial, I tried to see thing from a chemistry point of view. As making coffee is full of chemistry, the soluble compound from the coffee ground dissolve in to the water which formed the coffee solution. Looking into the reaction, two factors stood out in my mind, time and temperature. So I sat on that for a while and a idea emerged.

Soak the coffee ground in bourbon overnight and brew the French press next day. In my mind I hope that all the essence of the bourbon will be thoroughly combined with the coffee and once the hot water hit the coffee, the alcohol will evaporate leaving the elixir from the marriage of whiskey and coffee. Sadly, that's didn't happen. The result is the opposite of my expectation, there is only a trace of vanilla and camel from the bourbon in the final product while the spicy alcohol burn is enhanced by the hot temperature of the final product.

If hot isn't the way to go, let's go cold then. I mean cold brew is cool, right?😂 As a fan of mixology, I borrowed a page from the old fashioned. I first made a large pot of cold brewed coffee and freeze half of it in to ice cube. After that just build the drink in the glass. Dashes of bitter and a tea spoon of sugar. Mix till all the sugar is dissolved and pour an oz whisky into the bitter sugar mixture. Mix it through. Put the frozen coffee in and top off the glass with cold brew coffee. Stir it well.

The result is good but given the effort it required, I think overall it is just a pass. The frozen coffee need to be prepared a day before. As a person of spontaneity, I abhor prep work. So I deemed this drink as not ideal.

Then in a Sunday afternoon I stumbled into this magical method. As of recently, I had been quite fond of the V60 brewed coffee. So why not do the V60 routine with a splash of whisky just like that iced tea.

The procedure is simple. Pour half a shot(~10 ml) of cask strength sherry cask whisky. Swirl it around the glass and start your V60 brew. For the V60 brew method, I adopted the method from James Hoffmann cause he seems to know what he is doing. The plate holding the glass is for the ice chilling the coffee to drinking temperature without diluting the coffee. This method do not requires extra preparation and the result is quite good. Originally, I am not a big fan of the bottle in the picture as the bitter note is too strong. But then, in this whisky spiked V60 the bitterness from the whisky and coffee seems to have canceled each other and the honey dark fruit present itself in both the nose and mouth.


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