Hard java


courtesy Slingshot Coffee

Coffee cocktails are having a moment.

Not the steamy, desserty kind, thick with whipped cream and Bailey’s. Not the toddy variety, curing what ails you.

This coffee cocktail is serious, and it’s iced. Dry – even lemony – and spiked with vodka, whiskey, or bitters, it’s not made to warm you up or soothe your throat. It’s delicious, but it’ll keep you on your toes.

At the VIP kick-off party for the Hopscotch music festival last month, a line snaked around the Contemporary Art Museum for “The Corrected Cocktail,” a joint creation of Helen Flowers of the Morning Times and Scott Birch of Foundation bar. Made with bourbon, Larry’s Beans cold brew coffee concentrate, port wine, orange bitters, and honey, it was a bittersweet bracer. At Foundation bar itself that weekend, they were fueling the hordes with “Hopscotch Breakfast,” a combination of bourbon, condensed milk, a whole egg, and again, Larry’s coffee concentrate.

Cold-brew coffee concentrate is the key here – and one of the reasons these drinks are suddenly everywhere. With Raleigh home to roasters like Larry’s, Raleigh Coffee Company, and cold-brew makers like Slingshot Coffee Co., the smooth elixir that is cold-brew iced coffee makes cocktails an intuitive next step.

“It’s taking an ingredient and pushing its boundaries to see where you can take it and what results,” says Jenny Bonchak, founder of Slingshot. Her favorite version, the “Home Opener,” includes cherry-infused simple syrup, Irish whiskey, and bitters.

As the days shorten, it might be worth trying a drink with a caffeinated kick. Walter has gathered some recipes to put Red Bull and vodka in the shade, concoctions easy to make at home. Two use Raleigh-made cold-brew concentrates to create fresh cocktails, while the third steeps coffee beans, brandy and coffee together for an entire month to create a home-made liquor with zing.


Girl from Ipanema

created by Larry Larson, founder of Larry’s Beans

1 ounce vodka

1 ounce triple sec

1 1/4 ounces Larry’s Beans cold-brew concentrate

Juice from one lemon wedge

Plenty of ice

Mix in a shaker, shake well, then strain onto ice. Garnish with lemon.


Coffee Bon Bon

created by Capital Club 16 

1 1/2 ounces raspberry liqueur

1 1/2 ounces chocolate bitters (Bitter Truth brand)

2 ounces Slingshot cold-brew concentrate

Splash of water

Mix in a shaker, then pour into a martini glass; no ice.


Coffee liquor

by Raleigh Coffee Company

1/4 cup medium/dark freshly roasted and finely ground coffee

2 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup whole coffee beans

3 cups brandy

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine finely ground coffee, brown sugar, and water in saucepan over medium heat. Stir until mixture boils, then reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Combine cooled mixture with whole coffee beans and brandy in a glass container with an air-tight lid. Store container in a dry area, away from sunlight, for two weeks, stirring occasionally.

Add vanilla, stir, and reseal for two more weeks.

Strain through a cheesecloth into a pitcher.