I've been on a serious iced coffee kick lately. A tall, cold glass of a brew as inky as midnight is a perfect pick-me-up on a stifling summer afternoon. For some time, I've been inhabiting various coffee houses, enjoying their variations on a theme.
While I enjoy iced drip coffee, cold brews, and iced lattes, I've come to realize that there's literally a whole world of iced coffee to explore. Different parts of the globe have their own variations on iced coffee. I'm enamored with decadent German eiskaffee, which shows stereotypical German efficiency by replacing ice, milk, and sugar with a scoop of ice cream. There's a simple joy in the Greek frappé, made from Nescafé instant coffee and shaken to give a thick, foamy head.
For one of the best variations on iced coffee, one must head to the cradle of modern coffee culture, Italy. Over there, they do a rich iced coffee that somehow has barely made any headway into the United States. It's called caffè shakerato.
See also: Confessions of a Cold Brew Coffee Addict
Shakerato sounds like a new Starbucks abomination, but it's Italian through and through. Making one is dead simple. Take a shot of espresso, add a bit more simple syrup than you think you should use, and shake the living daylights out of it with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a martini glass, and enjoy.
While there's nothing wrong with a basic caffè shakerato, I do have one minor issue. What's the fun of using a martini glass if you aren't going to put any booze in it?
Thankfully, the Italians are way ahead of me on this one. A common after-dinner drink is caffè corretto, espresso "corrected" with a liberal dash of spirits. Why not combine the two for something cool with a kick? There's a couple of tricks to making one of these. First, the coffee needs to be shaken for a full 30 seconds with ice, to both ensure a proper chill and to create the signature foamy head. Second, add the spirits after shaking, or the foam won't have the right texture.
The most common additions to caffè corretto are grappa (a grape-based eau de vie), brandy, or sambuca. However, as with the seemingly endless variety of flavored syrups to add to one's iced coffee, a wide range of liqueurs are also delicious additions. I'm fond of hazelnut liqueur.
Now that the shakerato better fits the martini glass, I'm torn as to whether it's better served as a midafternoon pick-me-up or as a cool concoction for after dinner. All I can think is, why not both?
Caffè Shakerato-Corretto Use the smaller amount of simple syrup with sweetened liqueurs, the full amount for hard spirits. 2 ounces espresso (or cold-brew coffee concentrate) 1/2 to 1 ounce simple syrup 1 ounce brandy, grappa, or sambuca (or other spirits of your choosing)
Pour espresso and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker, and add ice cubes to fill. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass or champagne flute. Add spirits, and stir gently to combine.