Here cocktail stands for alcoholic drinks, not simply a mixture of coffee with some juices or sodas.
While mixing coffee with alcohol is a thing since a century (or even centuries), it’s still not that common for coffee fans to drink both coffee regularly and coffee cocktails. Even less so, making cocktail with a Nespresso machine; not even Nespresso advertise much alcoholic drinks with their line of coffee. There are but a handful of cocktail recipes that are alcoholic on the official website. We feel that using a Nespresso capsule to make a good cocktail is an underrated habit and we experimented over the last months with preparing some.
Everybody knows an Irish Coffee or a Caffè Corretto or an Espresso Martini. Countless other cocktails do exist though. We thought it would be a good idea to highlight some less known ones. Some of the “official” ones from Nespresso are:
- Spaccanapoli: Nespresso Ispirazione Napoli, Cherry Liqueur, Orange Curaçao, London Dry Gin, Red Vermouth.
- Riviera Sunday: Nespresso Ispirazione Napoli, Lemon Juice, Honey Syrup, Ginger Ale.
- Blue Lagoon Coffee: Capriccio, Passion Fruit Syrup, Curaçao, Sparkling Water.
- Espresso Grog: Cosi, White Rum, Sugar Cane Syrup.
But others can be found around the internet.
- Affogato Cocktail: Grappa (45ml), Coffee Liqueur (15ml), Creme de Cacao (15ml), Espresso (30ml), Vanilla Ice Cream (1 scoop). Suggested capsule: Ciocattino or Cocoa Truffle.
- Black Diamond: Light Rum (38ml), Creme de Cacao (38ml), Espresso (38ml). Suggested capsule: Vanilla Eclair or Vanilio.
- Black Espresso: Spiced Rum (40ml), Espresso (30ml), Sherry (10ml), Brown Sugar Syrup (5ml), Chocolate Bitters (6 drops). Suggested capsule: Arpeggio.
- Blue Nightcap: Cognac VSOP (45ml), Sherry (30ml), Espresso (10ml), Honey (half a spoon), Black Walnut Bitters (1 dash). Suggested capsule: Ispirazione Napoli.
- Bonaparte: Soda water (90ml), Espresso (30ml), Mandarin Napoleon Liqueur (45ml). Suggested capsule: Livanto or Ispirazione Venezia.
- Brazilian Coffee: Cachaça (30ml), Cream (30ml), Espresso (60ml), Sugar Cane Syrup (22.5ml). Suggested capsule: Cafezinho do Brasil or Livanto.
- Flat White Martini: Irish Cream Liqueur (45ml), Vodka (30ml), Espresso (30ml). Suggested capsule: Arpeggio or Roma.
- Flying Frenchman: Absinthe (30ml), Coffee Liqueur (30ml), Espresso (30ml). Suggested capsule: Kazaar.
- Insomniac: Vodka (22.5ml), Frangelico (22.5ml), Coffee Liqueur (22.5ml), Espresso (30ml), Cream (15ml), Milk (15ml). Suggested capsule: Barista Scuro or Ristretto.
- Jalisco Espresso: Tequila (60ml), Espresso (30ml), Coffee Liqueur (30ml). Suggested capsule: Roma.
- Lazarus: Vodka (30ml), Cognac VSOP (15ml), Coffee Liqueur (30ml), Espresso (30ml). Suggested capsule: Livanto.
- Mocha Martini: Bourbon (45ml), Espresso (30ml), Irish Cream Liqueur (15ml), Creme de Cacao (15ml), Cream (15ml). Suggested capsule: Arpeggio or Livanto or Ispirazione Napoli.
- Patriota: Light Rum (45ml), Fernet Branca (10ml), Chocolate Cream Liqueur (10ml), Espresso (25ml), Caster Sugar. Suggested capsule: Ciocattino or Arpeggio.
- Spanish Espresso Martini: Vodka (30ml), Licor-43 (30ml), Espresso (40ml). Suggested capsule: Arpeggio or Roma or Ispirazione Venezia.
- Vodka Espresso: Vodka (40ml), Kahlùa (40ml), Espresso (20ml). Suggested capsule: Roma.
Best Nespresso capsules for cocktails
Hard to say which of the many Nespresso capsules are the best for cocktails. It depends on the cocktail itself, first, and what is the role of the coffee in it. If it’s the heart of the drink, and thus shouldn’t be overcome by any other ingredient, or if it is an addition to a very flavourful cocktail. The role of the coffee will dramatically influence the choice of the right capsule.
Some guidelines can be given. If the coffee is the most important ingredient, the one that gives the full character to the cocktail, a medium/strong capsule will probably be the best choice. Choose the one that has the notes you most want to highlight and most closely go with the other ingredients in the drink. For example, a “woody” capsule like Kazaar will go great with most Scotch-based cocktails. Chocolate liqueurs or based off nuts will also accompany very well a capsule like Kazaar or Ispirazione Napoli. They are strong enough to not be overwhelmed by the intense tones of dark chocolate, hazelnuts or creamy liqueurs. You need a capsule that will be somewhat similar to the taste of the other ingredients and at the same time that will be as strong as the spirits you’re using it with.
On the other hand a more nuanced, lighter-bodied capsule like Ethiopia and Cosi will easily disappear if paired with a strong whisky or a dark rum. You could always increase the doses of coffee in the final drink but then you’d risk overwhelm other ingredients like fruit juices and syrups that won’t have a chance to shine if paired with large quantities of coffee. Even a light-bodied capsule is still coffee, an intense beverage. Thus, for lighter spirits (like Vodka or a straight Gin), and for more fruity cocktails, go for a light, less intense capsule.
A third possibility in choosing Nespresso capsules for cocktails is to look for some contrasting notes, that won’t be against each other but complement themselves instead. That is the case of using lemon or orange juice, high in acidity, with a coffee that has little to no acidity at all. Think of Arpeggio or Roma. This will allow you to taste neither a too acidic nor too low in acidity drink, with complementary flavours. The chocolate factor of a capsule can mix well with a juice of a tropical fruit or an orange. Well-mixed cocktails usually fall into this category but are the trickiest to make, as you have to take into consideration the acidity, intensity and all taste notes of each ingredient to make a good, not displeasing or jarring, contrast. It’s far too easy for a beginner in mixology to make a drink that on paper should taste good and balanced and use a wrong spirit for it or brew the Nespresso capsule in the wrong size, ruining the tasting experience.
In any case, all the capsules can work well with the appropriate cocktail. Experimenting is the only way to discover what works well with what. When unsure, try first the tested recipes we gave above and develop a taste from those. Play with them, removing one or more ingredients or switching one by one to craft your favourite cocktail with a Nespresso capsule.
If you have already invented a cocktail with coffee, we’d love to hear your impressions and its recipe in the comments!