That’s the Spirit
Warm things up after work this winter with a tempting cup of coffee—laced with liqueur.
Who doesn’t love coffee? It’s what jump-starts our mornings and satisfies our mid-afternoon fixes, especially when a late work day looms ahead. This classic cup of comfort perks its aromatic head yet again when added to spirits like brandy and amaretto, putting a whole new twist on that wide-awake-yet feelin’-fine caffeine/alcohol buzz. The mixability and versatility of coffee (I like it in my desserts, too: hello, vanilla ice cream!), allows for a variety of caffeinated concoctions come Happy Hour, especially in the throes of winter’s cold temperatures when a tempting hot drink—ideally laced with liqueur—warms you from deep inside your soul. Here are some of the best liqueur coffee concoctions that bartenders across Westchester are serving up this winter:
1 Christie Pl Scarsdale
The low lights and bold reds that define Chat set the scene for the eatery’s sexy new drink, invented by bartender Mauro Musco. The "Chat Café" ($12) is part mystery, part Old World presentation, and part show. Mauro starts with Bacardi 151, which he lights on fire and then mixes with a touch of Frangelico and amaretto. The flames swirl as he deftly pours each delicately into a glass mug, then adds coffee, whipped cream, and a dash of almond liqueur. Talk about hot!
179 Main St New Rochelle
Latins take their coffee seriously and, at Cienega, the dramatic new space owned by husband and wife Pedro Muñoz and Vivian Torres (he’s from Mexico, she’s from Puerto Rico), the "El Monje" ($7) is no exception. This hot dessert drink, inspired by serious coffee drinker Vivian (who says she was drinking coffee before learning to walk!), is filled to the brim with double espresso, Baileys Irish Cream, Frangelico and whipped cream, and laced with orange zest. It’s a true flavor powerhouse that, for the hour or so you’re seated at the sedate bar, makes you feel like you’ve jetted on a first-class ticket to Latin America.
F.A.B. French American Bistro
222 E. Main St Mount Kisco
F.A.B. French American Bistro has one of the largest liqueur-infused coffee drink menus around, making it a tough choice between the "F.A.B. coffee" (Frangelico, Amaretto, and Baileys; $8.50); the "French Kiss" (amaretto, Kahlúa, and Godiva Dark; $8.50); or—my fave—the "Hazelnut Café au Lait" ($8.50), an artful presentation of Cuarenta y Tres, Baileys, and coffee. Served with housemade whipped cream in a glass mug that shows the gorgeous separations of colors, it's ideal paired with the almond chocolate chip croissant bread pudding ($8). No doubt, you’ll leave satiated, happy, and ready for a nap.
Morton’s, The Steakhouse
9 Maple Ave White Plains
By blending “A,B,C”—Amaretto, Baileys, crème de cocoa, and coffee—Morton's creates the perfect boozy base for its namesake "Morton’s Coffee" ($10), which tastes like a warm hug at the end of the day. You’ll need a spoon to start out—the whipped cream is worth scooping up—but, eventually, you’ll want to bring the cinnamon sugar-rimmed glass goblet to your lips to truly enjoy this homage to coffee’s best combinations. (If you go, tell bartenders Leonard or Anthony that 914INC. sent you!)
121 Myrtle Blvd Larchmont
The bold and fruity “Winter Nuts and Berries” ($9) at Plates has a berry aroma and a nutty follow-up, making for a sinfully delectable treat on a cold winter’s day. The sizzling pick-me-up, served in a sizeable wine glass, is a mixture of Frangelico liqueur, Chambord raspberry liqueur, Baileys, black coffee, and house-made whipped cream that softens the coffee flavor while upping the sweet factor.
The Lobby Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton
3 Renaissance Sq
White Plains (914) 946-5500
Chocolate drinks are a dream come true for those who love caffeine as much as they enjoy cocoa. Recognizing that, The Lobby Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton offers a creamy “Hot Mocha Haze” ($9), brimming with espresso, steaming hot chocolate, Frangelico, and a foam-milk garnish with shaved chocolate. The inviting living-room ambience, complete with centrally located (gas) fireplace, ups the “homey” factor, making you feel warm and toasty even before you’ve taken your first sip. The aromas are a wonderful mixture of dense chocolate, with a clean coffee finish. Just be warned: you will get a bit of a milk mustache, but it’s worth every sip.
289 Rte 100 Somers
“Yum” is the first word that comes to mind when sampling the "Venetian Coffee" ($8) at Seasons, a velvety combination of whipped Frangelico, brandy, and hot coffee, topped with whipped cream. The restaurant, known for its neighborhood vibe and eclectic décor, also features other original concoctions, including the "Aspen Coffee" (Irish cream liquor, Kahlua, Frangelico, coffee, and whipped cream; $8) and the "French Kiss" (Grand Marnier, Courvoisier, coffee, and cream; $9), though come Valentine’s Day, I’ll be sampling its "Love Potion #9" martini.
20 Willett Ave, Port Chester (914) 939-7500
The balance of flavors in the Willett House's “Willett Coffee” ($9.50) adds a high-octane zip to your late-day cup. This two-layer affair—served in a wine glass with a sprinkle of cinnamon, fresh whipped cream, and a cherry on top—features brandy, Cointreau, and coffee, along with a rock-candy sugar stick and a chocolate wafer cookie. If you can, go on a night when Kathy Donahue-Webb is at the bar (usually every night but Wednesday): she’s a master at mixing this drink, as well as offering suggestions on other interesting house-made concoctions.
455 S Broadway Tarrytown (914) 631-5700
The oversized white mug that is the “Z Mocha Kiss” ($8) has me at “hello.” Served with a rock-candy sugar swirler and chocolate biscotti in a hefty 14-ounce mug, it’s a specialty of Bistro Z. The mixture of cappuccino, amaretto, and crème de cocoa offers the same rich mouthful as adding half-and-half to your morning jolt but with a toasty, alcoholic bite. The inviting dining room with (wood-burning)
fireplace ups the “cozy” factor. (PS: The hotel has two more fireplaces in the lobby where you can take your drink to go and just hang out.) For tea lovers, there’s a “Z Chai Latte” ($8) with Chai tea, Cointreau, and Drambuie.
Writer/editor/blogger Jeanne Muchnick admits no one can talk to her in the morning until she’s had her first cup of coffee. The Larchmont resident is the author of Dinner for Busy Moms (dinnerforbusymoms.com) as well as the managing editor of Project You (projectyoumagazine.com), an online parenting magazine.