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With International Coffee Day just around the corner, the aptly named... Espresso Martini Society (whose menu boasts the largest selection of espresso martinis in the world!) reveal their most inventive twists on classic coffee cocktails for you to serve up in your bar.

The first coffee cocktail

Cocktails first achieved notoriety during Prohibition in the roaring twenties, and coffee was discovered a good 900 years earlier in Ethiopia, yet the first widely recognised coffee cocktail didn’t come into being until the 1940s.

The story goes that a junior chef named Joe Sheridan, who was working at an airbase on the west coast of Ireland, was tasked with preparing food and drinks to warm up stranded passengers on a stormy, winter’s night.

He brewed dark, rich coffee, added some Irish whiskey, a little sugar and topped it with freshly whipped cream, and wouldn’t you know, the Irish Coffee was born. Of course, the combination of coffee and alcohol had undoubtedly occurred well before this delightful little tale, but the end product was arguably the first globally recognised recipe of its kind.

Innovative coffee cocktails

Coffee and alcohol are a perfect pair in cocktails. When you use your imagination, there is no end to the number of coffee beverages that are possible. New espresso-based coffee drinks are being reinvented constantly, with frisky aromas of fun and playful perk. Making coffee cocktails is similar to cooking: don’t hold back and don’t be intimidated. Feel free to expand on the recipes below and produce your own creations – that’s the fun part!

Really, most spirits and liqueurs pair well with coffee. Vodka’s neutrality makes it the ultimate dancing partner, but the likes of rum, tequila, whisky and bourbon can cut some seriously tasty coffee shapes all the same. Whisk(e)y and rum tend to work better with strong flavours like hazelnut, cinnamon and orange, and pair best with a strong, dark roast coffee. Gin and tequila work nicely with lighter, floral flavours such as berries, almond and mint, and a smoother coffee. You'll want to avoid anything derived from wine, like vermouth, and anything overtly fruity.

TOP TIPS FOR making coffee cocktails

The Irish martini

This is an innovative approach to a classic recipe, twisting it with rum and stout to maintain that smooth consistency while bringing out an extra kick. The result is as good as the classic – if not better! Strong flavour notes of coffee with a hint of dark chocolate.

25ml Coffee

45ml Guinness

30ml Captain Morgan

30ml Coffee liqueur

5ml Chocolate syrup

Dust with cocoa powder


Add the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice

Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds

Strain into a chilled martini glass

15.75g of alcohol* (according to ml of the serve)

The Merry Berry

People forget how versatile coffee is when it comes to making fruit-based cocktails and generally stick to safe citrus flavours. There are countless fruit options out there to experiment with that pair beautifully with coffee. One of our favourites to use are berries – all shapes and sizes or flavours. These are spot on with subtle coffees from Kenya, Ethiopia, or Jamaica.

40ml Smirnoff

20 ml Coffee liqueur

25ml Coffee

17.5ml Blueberry/raspberry/blackberry syrup


Add the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice

shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds

Strain into a chilled tumbler glass filled with ice

Garnish with blackberries on a cocktail pick

15.01g of alcohol* (according to ml of the serve)

Sex on the Peach

This is probably on the lower end of the innovation spectrum, but it’s a combination a lot of people don’t naturally pair together and watching the sheer delight on guests faces after that first sip is always a joy. Just be careful not to overdo sour tones in your pairing selections – the results can be catastrophic!

40ml Smirnoff

17.5ml Coffee liqueur

25ml Coffee

10ml Peach syrup

10ml Cream


Add the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice

Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds

Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a slice of burntpeach

14.62g of alcohol* (according to ml of the serve)

The Nut Job

A serious crowd pleaser – we adapted this from the age-old partnership of biscotti and espresso. Biscotti comes in a multitude of flavours and varieties to suit nearly any palate, but almond is the classic.

40ml Smirnoff

20ml Coffee liqueur

25ml Coffee

17.5ml Amaretto


Add the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice

Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds

Strain into a chilled coupe glass

Garnish with crushed almond flakes and any additions you think might compliment – we often add a chocolate swirl.

18.88g of alcohol* (according to ml of the serve)

Looking for more innovative serve inspiration?Sign up to Diageo Bar Academy today for unlimited access!

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