How We Do Iced Coffee
The love between a member of The Attic and our caffeine is perhaps unparalleled. It comforts us and sustains us, and at home nothing gets us going faster in the mornings or brings more easy enjoyment with friends. Traveling, we seek it out religiously, to save us from jet lag and submerge us within the local energy, becoming a home away from home — a place where we gather with friends or fellow travelers and stop to recharge between sights. In our coffee shop series, we share our favorite independent coffee shops at home and around the world. In this special edition, we’re sharing our current favorite iterations of the beloved drink.
Iced coffee drinks probably see me through about six months of the year, if not more. I start in March at the first sign of spring weather and have to have it torn out of my very cold (only emotionally dead, lol) hands late November when the winter chill finally starts to set in. At my favorite coffee shop my drink of choice is called ‘The Freido,’ a magical concoction of equal parts espresso and half-and-half (I get it with almond milk) shaken vigorously with ice and a flavor shot of your choice. At home I live by the virtue of cold brew, preparing a large batch at night that will see me through the next few days. In the morning I’ll fill up half of a two or three cup mason jar, add a splash of store-bought caramel or hazelnut syrup, probably too much vanilla oat milk, and an almost full cup of ice. As I once remarked to the very barista that introduced me to the freido, “I like my coffee like I like my men — very strong and very, very cold.”
I’m almost the opposite of Raquel and wait until the last minute to switch to iced coffee every year, but once I do, there’s no going back. At home, I have two ways of making iced coffee. I like to keep a tray of frozen espresso ice cubes ready for when I want my drink to be as strong as possible, mixing them with another shot of espresso and cold (oat) milk so as not to dilute the drink in any way. When I’m less particular about the strength and just want something blissfully cold, I empty a tray of ice into my favorite cocktail shaker (a gold holiday shaker, complete with jingle bells to further remind me that winter, though far off, is always looming at the edge of existence), add two shots of espresso and a freestyle amount of (oat) milk and shake away before pouring the concoction over some more ice. At my local coffee shops, I turn to similar iced lattes or yes, any hazelnut or caramel coffee frappé.
Now that I live in Scotland, I don’t often drink as much iced coffee as I used to. But whenever I am back home in Italy, where summer means endless heat, iced coffee becomes my best friend – whether over breakfast or as an after-lunch treat or afternoon drink. This is made all the sweeter as there is a tradition of making a very special kind of iced coffee near my hometown. It’s called ‘caffè Leccese,’ named after the baroque city of Lecce in Apulia. To make it, you mix a fair amount of ice and sweet almond syrup together in a small glass; then, you pour a hot shot of espresso over it. The result is a delight! The ‘caffè Leccese’ makes even 40 degree days bearable!
With the growing trendiness of artisanal coffee drinks and artisanal cocktails, it’s not surprising to see the two mingle on a restaurant menu nowadays. Olivia has mentioned her love of Espresso Martinis to me time and time again, and when asked earlier this week WHY I still haven't gotten my hands on one yet, I blankly replied, “I guess I’m just used to drinking my espresso with Bourbon,” as though that’s just a thing everybody does. She assured me, it is not. And then she tasked me with sharing it here.
I first had an espresso laced cocktail a few years ago, when a local restaurant featured it on their specials one night. On the very first sip I was in heaven. Asking a few people in the know how I might recreate the flavors at home, I learned it’s not as simple as pouring a shot of espresso into your shot of liquor, so here we go.
This one’s called a Maple Coffee Sour, and I’m sure there’s an official recipe somewhere, but I made this version by modifying my whiskey sour recipe. You’ll need:
90 ml / 3 oz Whiskey Bourbon (Given the sweetness of the maple syrup, you could also do this with Scotch if you’re up to the challenge; I did half and half.)
Fresh squeezed lime juice (Whatever you get out of a whole large lime should do.)
60 ml / 2 oz Grade A Maple Syrup (The real stuff, not Mrs. Butterworth’s.)
2 tablespoons whole espresso beans
In a very small saucepan over medium high heat, add whole espresso beans and maple syrup. Stir to ensure the beans are well coated in the syrup. Bring up to a simmer and turn down to medium, infusing the syrup until it melts and becomes a little bit more fluid and less syrupy, about six minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a cocktail shaker filled about halfway (or more) with ice, add bourbon and lime juice. If you want a lighter coffee flavor, strain out the beans and add the syrup to the shaker. If you want a true coffee flavor you’ll pour the whole thing in. Close and shake like you’re knocking sense into a right wing politician and don’t stop until it’s so cold the outside has frosted over. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice and enjoy with dessert or a very good cheese plate. Cheers!