I’m a dedicated fan of C. arabica* … one of those people who doesn’t really wake up until the Pavlovian bite of the morning Joe hits the tongue, and for whom a day without coffee is a day that never really begins. Perhaps it’s precisely because I hold it in such esteem that I dislike the standard complement of coffee drinks — Irish Coffees, Spanish Coffees, etc — for while hot coffee is allowably paired with cream and sugar, I find that alcohol lends it a foreign nose, a thinner mouthfeel, and the uncertain outcome of an ill-balanced speedball†. The only justification for Spanish coffee, in my estimation, is that it keeps an elite subset of the nation’s waitstaff in the practice of hurling ignited 151° from one glass to another. Thus, when the final trump is blown and Jerry Thomas descends to walk once more among mankind, there will be a sufficiency of practiced acolytes to cast crowd-parting Blue Blazers before his retinue.
Which is a roundabout way of saying fie on mugs of hot coffee adulterated with slugs of booze, whipped cream, and cinnamon sticks. Fortunately, there are short, cold coffee cocktails in greater number than one would think, given the rarity of their appearance in the wild. Brandy isn’t an uncommon mate to coffee: with Cointreau, it yields the Merger and the Coffee Cocktail Variation (the one that actually calls for coffee); with kirschwasser it produces a Blackjack or Coffee Kirsch; add an egg white to the latter for a Parachute Cooler. For Mixology Monday II, however, it’s a combination of coffee, brandy, Galliano and cream that creates the Cafe Galliano.
1 oz. brandy
3/4 oz. Galliano
My bottle of Galliano sees very little use, so I’m pleased to find an excuse to trot the unwieldy thing out. Pairing Galliano with coffee is pleasingly appropriate, too. I had heretofore assumed the name stemmed from it being somehow Gallic, but instead it’s in honor of Major Giuseppe Galliano, an Italian army officer who seems to have lead a series of brave but terribly unsuccessful routs, defeats and retreats in Italy’s African colonial campaigns of the late 19th century. He is inextricably associated with Ethiopia (née Abyssinia), where he met his death, and whence the Arabica bean originates!
I’m even more pleased to find that I rather like the Cafe Galliano. Cold, the coffee has more presence than one might expect from a drink in which it comprises a mere third. I tried to float half-and-half in lieu of cream, but repeated attempts invariably resulted in it sinking like a stone to form a vaguely curdled-looking cloud at the bottom of the glass. One should definitely practice before serving a Cafe Galliano to others… the texture doesn’t suffer — it’s no cement mixer — but neither is it the prettiest thing going. No great matter… with a quick stir it takes on something that looks very much like Baileys, and tastes very much like the prelude to a second round.
* Coffee is a member of the Rubiaceae family, by the way, which also includes Cinchona, trees that produce Peruvian Bark, whence quinine, whence Tonic Water, whence the salvation of summer.
† I’m merely speculating on this last point. Speaking of speedballs, though, Wikipedia informs us that the kids’ trendy new speedballs are made with heroin, cocaine and Everclear — a true drug cocktail — and called Mad Max Beyond Thunderdomes.