Drinks | Recipes

The Morning Addition: A Coffee Amaro Cocktail

Sometimes Monday mornings can drive a person to drink.

Especially, say, when you get up early to tackle a few things on your to-do list before the sun comes up. And then you discover revenge work being done by one cat because you dared close the bathroom door in his face while you put your contacts in.

(Which you started doing in the first place because the other cat decided a long time ago that contact lens cases on the bathroom counter were clearly toys for his use, and also, while you’re up there, you need to turn on the faucet to give him fresh water okplzthx?)

coffee amaro cocktail
Photo: Casey Barber

Moral of the story: cats are adorable bastards, and I’m heading downstairs to put some amaro in my morning coffee.

This coffee amaro cocktail comes as a reader request from GFS contributor and all-around smart cookie Abigail Hammett, who asked, “Can you invent an NPR-themed breakfast cocktail called the ‘Morning Addition’?”

Taking her needs to heart, I decided the best way to pay homage to NPR’s long-running, widely acclaimed news program Morning Edition was to keep it simple.

coffee amaro cocktail
Photo: Casey Barber

The main news story of the day is, as it should be, a bracing cup of cold-brew coffee, with the addition of a shot of amaro (the long-form feature segment or interview, if we’re continuing the news parallel).

Add some dairy, if you’re so inclined, to bring in local flavor and shake in a few drops of orange bitters for a cultural update and you’ve got a well-rounded drink.

Cocktails pairing coffee and amaro are nothing new; it’s a classic match that blends two depths of bitterness.

Each brand of amaro (the correct plural, by the way, is amari) has its own recipe and ingredient list, so each tastes a bit different than its brethren. Some are more astringent and some more herby and vegetal, while others are sweeter and more syrupy.

coffee amaro cocktail
Photo: Casey Barber

Many of these classic Italian aperitivo brands are also really difficult to find in regular old suburban liquor stores!

The one I’ve recommended for this coffee amaro cocktail, Averna, is more or less widely available, and has a sweetly spiced flavor profile that will make rum and Coke drinkers very happy.

This Sicilian amaro also has a rather high ABV (29 percent), so it will hit you hard if you’re not careful. If you can find it, also try this cocktail with Rabarbo Zucca amaro for a fun compare-and-contrast session.

Zucca uses rhubarb and cardamom in its flavor profile for a roasted, campfire-y taste that switches out some of the sweetness for smoke. (It’s also only 16 percent ABV, maybe a bit more palatable for a breakfast drink?)

coffee amaro cocktail

Cold-brew coffee tip!

If you’re not making large-batch iced coffee for sipping all summer long per my cold-brew coffee instructions, you can scale down the ratio to make only as much coffee as is needed for this cocktail.

Stir 2 1/2 ounces coarsely ground coffee beans (yes, measure by weight; it’s the most accurate considering we all grind our beans slightly differently, so volume won’t be exactly the same) and 1 1/2 cups cold water together in a bowl and let sit overnight.

Strain through a coffee filter-lined metal strainer; you should have a little more than 1 cup cold-brew coffee. Or just use bottled cold brew coffee.

coffee amaro cocktail

The Morning Addition: A Coffee Amaro Cocktail

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Inspired by NPR's Morning Edition, this coffee amaro cocktail is well-rounded and goes down easily after breakfast - or whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) cold-brew coffee
  • 1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) Averna amaro or Zucca amaro
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk or half and half (optional)
  • a few dashes orange bitters

Instructions

  1. Pour the coffee into an ice-filled rocks or old-fashioned glass.
  2. Stir in the amaro and the milk, if using.
  3. Shake a few drops of orange bitters over the surface of the cocktail
  4. Drink immediately.

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