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A Guide to Seattle's Best Coffee Cocktails

Plus, a special Eater Seattle Cocktail Week recipe from Liberty.

There are many great combinations in the food world. Peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, pizza and beer, mashed potatoes and gravy -- the list goes on. Even more infinite are cocktail combinations. Mixologists concoct drinks with a myriad of ingredients in ways that make them look like alcohol's version of Walter White.

Gone are the two ingredient standards like vodka and anything, rum and coke or SoCo and Seven -- those are pedestrian beverages destined for reliving the glory days of college. In this town, we celebrate coffee and there are some damned fine coffee-based libations out there for you to try. If Bacchus liked coffee, he'd come to Seattle for a drink. Here's a list of favorites.

MmmHmm Coffee at Anchored Ship

Barista by day, barman by night, Jon French devised a weekend specialty cocktail theme about eight months ago for the Mmmhmm Coffee crew which operates as a pop-up out of Anchored Ship on Ballard Ave. Initially, they focused on serving coffee with a mix of old and new world style vermouth and fortified wines with Counter Culture beans featured at the cafe. Given that their roasts were more fruit-forward with a good amount of citrus, stone fruit and melon -- the sweet flavor profiles of vermouth were great match.

One of their first cocktails was named Amor y Amargo after the namesake bar in NYC.  It's made with two parts Imbue, by Petal and Thorn, and one part coffee brewed and brought to an icy chill.

With their liquor license being granted in September, look for more creative drinks such as October's special made with Espalon tequila and chilled down espresso -- shaken, not stirred. MmmhHmm Coffee at Anchored Ship is open every Friday and Saturday from 8-11 p.m.


Caffe Corretto is a traditional Italian drink made with a shot of espresso and an equal pour of liquor -- usually grappa or amaro. 'Corretto' literally means to correct in Italian and the addition of liquor is said to balance the flavors of the dark, rich Italian roast espresso.

Corretto serves many variations on this theme sometimes using the standards or anisette. The also make some damned fine coffee cocktails including the Liquid Biscotti which is a combination of Faretti (a biscotti liqueur), espresso, and cream. Another favorite is the Crema e Crema made with amaretto, Dimmi (a sweet, spicy Italian liqueur), espresso, cream, and a dash of Scrappys aromatic bitters which add complexity. If you want more than unctuous coffee drinks, then check out the classic Northern and Central Italian themed menu by chef Laura Licona.

Art of the Table

Ok, so most people come to James Beard Award nominated Chef Dustin Ronspies' restaurant for beautifully prepared food. But there's a little secret -- bartender Mitch Palmer is one of the tops in town when it comes to creating cocktails that are on par with the food. 

If you are there for a meal, Palmer recommends a French pressed coffee with one of the wide selection of Amaro's on hand or with Sweet vermouth. It's a lovely way to end your meal and perfect if you want something of a nightcap with a lower alcohol content. Alternatively, for a pre-meal drink or if you are just stopping in for a cocktail -- try the house-made Carbonated cold-pressed coffee with a touch of apricot liqueur to sweeten the flavor and bring balance to the drink.

Cafe Presse

If you want to stay on the Mediterranean tip check out Cafe Presse where there's always a featured coffee cocktail on the menu using Caffe Vita's Roast del Sol. One such drink is the Guillermo made with Frangelico, espresso, and a lime wheel, served hot.

Another tempting beverage that is sure to quench your thirsty is the currently featured Cafe Josephine made with the sweetness of Zara spiced rum, Caribbean-spice laden Falernum from Barbados, and a single shot of espresso served cold on the rocks with twist of orange. An after dinner or midday favorite (for those of you that drink midday -- why not?).


Tavern Law

McCracken and Tough's Tavern and Law is known for its crafty creative cocktail concoctions and comfort food. Their newest coffee drink is called Quetzalcoatl's Dram designed by Elias Shyne -- and it's a mixologists wet dream (pun intended).

First, they 'fat wash' coffee by soaking Oaxacan coffee beans in coconut oil and then separating out the oil by sous vide method. The remainder is this big, coco-nutty, coffee flavored liquid which is mixed with mescal. As if that weren't enough on its own, Shyne adds Cynar, Barolo Chinato, and a dash of Bitterman's Mole Xocolatl -- all served in a mesquite salt rimmed glass, stirred on the rocks.

Anchors Down

New to the Ballard bar scene in 2013, Anchors Down quickly gained a reputation for its cocktails made with nitrogen-poured, cold pressed Stumptown coffee. Also on tap are coffee slushies made with milk, cold brew, House Spirit coffee liqueur, and crushed ice. Try the Headspin made with Sailor Jerry Rum and Frangelico, House Spirits, and milk foam with nitro-poured brew in an ice cold martini glass. If that doesn't wake you up we don't know what will.


Liberty has a legit coffee program that includes great espresso and brews by the cup. Coffee cocktails are natural occurrences around these parts. One can get down with anything from a simple latte spiked with Fernet to a flaming Spanish Coffee (neither of which are found on the menu) and many whimsical creations in-between. The bartenders are always up for a challenge and take great pride in their craft. Come in, test their skills and be delighted in the process.

Barman Willi Sheller (who also daylights at Slate Coffee in Ballard) came up with this special, unnamed formulation for Eater Seattle. We'll call it ‘Bohemian Rhapsody' 1.5 oz Cold coffee (brewed to a 1:10 ratio) .75 oz wild turkey rye .75 oz Amaro Bassano .5 oz Lemon juice  .5 oz Simple syrup  Atomized absinthe, 2 good sprays  Lavender and orange Bitters  Crushed ice, Rosemary and lavender garnish


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