My latest liqueur infusion project, if not my absolute favorite, is possibly the most “me.” The inspiration actually came from a scholar in my field who stayed in our apartment during a conference last year. Learning of my love of coffee, she suggested infusing Sambuca with coffee beans. The thought was appealing, but I’m not crazy about the anise flavor in Sambuca, so I didn’t try it.
The seed was planted, however. I started thinking about what liqueurs would pair well with coffee. I’ve always loved coffee and orange together. Back when I was in high school Starbucks used to have a Mocha Valencia Latte, which was the only thing that would make me pay the prices of a Starbucks latte. My first thought was Grand Marnier, but given the cost of Grand Marnier and the fact that this was a total experiment on my part, I went with its cheaper little sister, Triple Sec.
I bought about two cups of whole bean coffee. I went for my favorite locally-roasted, super-dark roast (also fair-trade certified). Because if I’m going to go low-end on the booze, it’s important to be as pretentious as possible about the coffee. I bought a 750ml bottle of Triple Sec and poured roughly half of it into a mason jar with half of the beans, then put the other half of the beans in the bottle with the remaining liqueur. A lot of recipes online for making coffee infused vodka suggest using ground coffee—I didn’t do that, because it sounded like filtering would be a pain in the ass. If you do use ground coffee, it will infuse faster. On the other hand, it infuses quickly regardless, so there’s really no point in grinding if you ask me.
And that’s it. Store the jar and the bottle somewhere cool and dark and taste it every day. Like I said, this infuses fast. I waited forty-eight hours to taste the first time and it already had a good coffee flavor. At that point it was orange with a hint of coffee and I was looking more so for coffee with a hint of orange, so I left it in longer. After four days it had the flavor I wanted, but I didn’t have time to strain it, so it sat another day and a half.
The end result in amazing. It’s like drinking a good dark roast coffee, but then you get this hint of citrus at the end. Excellent for sipping. It’s very popular with my friends (I’ve gone through two bottles). It also makes a nice addition to desserts. My roommate added it to the filling for her Yule Log (she uses the French name I can’t spell and am too lazy to look up). I’ve added it to trifles with delicious results. And, of course, it goes nicely in coffee.