8 Tasty Ways To Add Booze To Your Brew

14 min read AUG 23, 2023

Though a new school year has begun and fall weather is quickly approaching, we can’t deny that these dog days of summer are still dragging on.

I mean, the sun’s still blazing and the temps are even threatening to climb into the 90’s every day next week here in the southern part of the midwest.

And, I don’t know about you, but for me, that means I’m still enjoying my brews nice and cold.

For some people iced coffee is a year round staple, but there’s just something about a big, cold, iced cup of joe when the temps are warm.

And, while most folks love to add a variety of textures and flavors to their brews, from cream and sugar to caramel or chocolate sauce drizzles, vanilla or hazelnut syrups, cold foams, spices, and more, the addition of alcohol to a tall glass of iced coffee is truly hard to beat during happy hour, sitting poolside, or while making memories in the sun with friends and family.

So, before these warm summer days come to an end, let’s explore some of the best ways to add booze to our brews, looking at the tastiest alcohol and iced coffee pairings.

All About That Base

Before we start perusing the aisles of the liquor store, let’s make sure we’ve got the base for our spiked iced coffee down to a science.

I know, we don’t have to tell you how to brew a great cup of joe, but there are a few things to consider when it comes to adding alcohol to coffee.

When preparing coffee for use in an iced cocktail, it may be tempting to simply brew a pot of your favorite medium or dark roast, let it chill, then start adding alcohol(s). Unfortunately, the addition of ice, alcohol, a sweetening agent, and/or other flavors can mask the true, original flavors you know and love in your brew.

So, to ensure you’ll still enjoy those bold, rich coffee flavors, there are a few preparation methods I’ve found to be most fitting when it comes to spiking your iced brews.

First, a bold, rich espresso is a tried and true base for most any addition, including alcohol.

It’s one of those small but mighty coffees that still allow you to savor its flavors through many elements, and this is why espresso is used as a base in many of the cafe offerings we enjoy such as lattes, macchiatos, cappuccinos, and many ingredient-heavy options including shakes, smoothies, and more.

Even if you’re typically not a fan of espresso, when crafting the perfect iced coffee cocktail you may want to consider giving it a try.

Then, another method of brewing that still produces a strong coffee flavor as a base for delicious cocktails is cold brewing.

When you cold brew coffee, this generally creates a stronger brew than traditional methods. It’s why most cold brew is considered to be a concentrate, which you can either add water to or fully ice down to achieve a more subtle brew.

Personally, I prefer my iced coffee to be strong, so I forgo the dilution even when sipping sans the addition of booze, but when adding alcohol, a rich, concentrated cold brew is a great choice for your base.

And, before we move on to the best alcohol and iced coffee pairings, let’s tackle the topic of ice.

Whether you’ll end up sipping your cocktail through ice, or simply use it in a cocktail shaker, this addition can potentially water down your brew.

Sometimes, a little dilution can be good when sipping liquor, but when you really want those classic, delicious coffee flavors to shine, the use of coffee ice cubes is a must.

To ensure a full-bodied coffee flavor until the last drop, I like to prepare a little extra cold brew, then add the prepared coffee to my favorite ice cube trays to freeze for use in any iced coffee or iced coffee cocktail creations.

Now, onto the booze…

From here forward today we’ll explore each alcoholic addition separately, detailing how these boozy add-ins can enhance your iced brew.

1- Kahlua

Kahlua is a coffee infused liqueur made from shade grown coffee, sugar, and rum. While Kahlua is one of the most common brands of coffee liqueur, there are, of course, similar liqueurs available for use as well.

You can even make your own homemade Kahlua by combining 2 ¼ cups of strongly brewed Lifeboost Medium Roast Coffee and 4 cups of cane sugar. Once this sweetened mixture cools, add in 2 ¼ cups aged rum and 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract. Store your homemade Kahlua in an airtight container and use it to sweeten and enhance your favorite coffee cocktails.

When using Kahlua, or any coffee liqueur, in your iced coffee, this component adds both sweetness and an extra dose of coffee flavoring to your brew.

Many well-known coffee cocktails include Kahlua in their making, including the white russian, an espresso martini, the bushwacker, a mudslide, and more.

Some of those cocktails actually use Kahlua as the coffee component, but we highly recommend using cold brew or espresso as the coffee component in these classics, then enhancing the brew with Kahlua.

Take the mudslide, for instance. Many make this drink with ice, 1 ounce Kahlua, 1 ounce vodka, and 1 ½ ounces of irish cream liqueur. But, we like to take the coffee component up a notch here and do a little something like this:

  • Add coffee ice cubes to a tall glass and set aside.
  • Add ice, 6 ounces of cold brewed Lifeboost Dark Roast Coffee, 1 ounce vodka, 1 ounce Kahlua, and 1.5 ounces Bailey’s to a cocktail shaker.
  • Shake vigorously or until the outside of the shaker begins to frost.
  • Pour prepared mudslide cocktail over coffee ice cubes in glass, and enjoy!

Bonus: Adding a drizzle of chocolate sauce over this brew truly takes it to the next level!

2- Rum

Moving on from liqueur to liquor here, rum makes a tasty iced coffee addition as this pairing contains caramelized sugars which give it a natural sweetness to stand up to the bold flavors in any dark, rich brew.

Dark rums often pair best with coffee, and it’s versatile enough that you can make a variety of iced coffee creations with it.

A tangy iced coffee cocktail option which utilizes rum is the Mazagran.

Essentially a refreshing coffee lemonade, you can make this cocktail by adding one shot of espresso, a bit of honey, a tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice, and ice to a glass. Stir to combine, and enjoy.

Rum also pairs well in creamy iced coffee creations. Many of you may already enjoy utilizing rum based liqueurs like RumChata which is a rum and cream based liqueur that includes cinnamon and vanilla flavors.

I’m a huge cinnamon fan, so I absolutely love pulling together something simple, like adding about 2 ounces of RumChata to 8 ounces of cold brewed Lifeboost Cinnamon Cappuccino Coffee over a glass full of coffee ice cubes.

If I’m feeling fancy I’ll top this with a bit of whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon. Two words: sooooo good!

But, even adding a shot of dark aged rum with a little bit of caramel syrup to your iced coffee can be a delicious treat enjoyed without any creamy additions.

And before we move on, let’s not forget another rum variation that makes a truly refreshing summertime addition to coffee: coconut rum!

Many iced coffee cocktails include the addition of both dark rum and coconut rum for a bit of tropical flare, so adding this variation alone to your brew can really take those summertime flavors to the next level.

When using coconut rum in iced coffee, I like to add a splash of coconut milk to enhance those tropical flavors. And, for true coconut lovers, I highly recommend cold brewing our Lifeboost Toasted Coconut Coffee to pair with coconut rum.

Sand between your toes or not, you’ll think you’re sitting beachside when sipping any creation with this pair.

3- Bourbon

From enjoying a Kentucky Coffee to a Coffee Old Fashioned, bourbon isn’t just for sipping neat.

Bourbon often contains vanilla and caramel overtones and some varieties even have some spicy notes, all of which pair exceptionally well with coffee.

Both dark roasts and bourbon barrel aged coffees pair well with bourbon, so the next time you’re enjoying a coffee old fashioned, we’d recommend the following:

  • 1 ounce Lifeboost Organic Espresso Coffee
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • ½ ounce Kahlua
  • ¼ ounce simple syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice.
- Shake gently as you’re primarily just wanting all of the ingredients to -incorporate without achieving a foamy component to your cocktail.
- Strain the combined mixture into a glass with a large ice cube. Enjoy!

Of course, as bourbon is considered a Kentucky classic, many Kentuckians enjoy simply adding a touch of honey to espresso before sipping this sweetened brew over ice with a bit of bourbon.

Bourbon, honey, and coffee…it doesn’t get much better than that!

4- Vodka

Vodka is a less commonly used liquor in coffee cocktails, but it’s by no means a completely out of the question addition.

Vodka adds a sophistication to iced brews for those seeking a strong drink with class.

For instance, martini fans likely know the classic espresso martini consists of a double dose of vodka combined with lesser, but equal, parts espresso and Kahlua.

Some even enjoy a touch of chocolate in this traditionally chilled drink for added sweetness and flavor.

Then, without the addition of chocolate, swapping out regular vodka for a vanilla infused version makes a tasty espresso martini as well.

Actually, adding vanilla vodka to any iced coffee along with a touch of sweetness to really bring out the vanilla flavor is an excellent way to take your typical iced coffee up a notch.

Vodka, like any liquor, does have a strong flavor, so if you don’t want to lose any of the fabulous flavors of your brew with such an addition, I’d highly recommend using coffee ice cubes when incorporating this type of alcohol.

5- Bailey’s Irish Cream

Why do people add milk or cream to their coffee? Well, because this addition brings an enhancing texture to the brew while also working to mask any bitterness in a cup of joe.

Obviously, Bailey’s Irish Cream is a specific brand of irish cream liqueur, one of the most common and popular brands, but other brands can be used as an exceptional pairing with iced coffee as well.

Bailey’s, specifically, is made with cream, cocoa, and Irish whiskey, each of which simply beg to be added to a hot or iced coffee.

The addition of irish cream liqueur to iced coffee can be a quick and easy addition, or it can be used in conjunction with other ingredients like Kahlua or vodka in a wide variety of tasty coffee cocktails.

Perhaps the simplest way I enjoy Bailey’s is by making a tray of coffee ice cubes using a cold brew concentrate. (I prefer using Lifeboost Dark Roast Coffee in ice cubes.) Once frozen, I simply fill a small glass with the coffee ice cubes, then top with Bailey’s and slowly sip as the ice cubes melt into the liqueur infusing it with rich, robust, icy coffee.

6- Guinness

Adding beer to coffee? Yes, please!

Guinness, or any stout beer really, makes a great addition to iced coffee, and this concept likely comes from the traditional Dublin Iced Coffee cocktail.

To make a Dublin iced coffee, you simply add 2 ounces of cold brewed Lifeboost Dark Roast Coffee, 2 ounces of Guinness or other stout beer, 1 ½ ounces Irish Whiskey, and ¾ ounce of simple syrup to a tall glass filled with ice. Gently stir these to combine, then slowly add a ½ ounce of heavy cream and top with a dusting of cinnamon if you’d like.

Dark stouts like Guinness often possess deep, rich flavors like that of molasses, cocoa, or caramel, and these pair very well with coffee.

I’d also recommend searching local breweries for their stout variations to use in iced coffee.

One craft brewery that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed visiting is Maiden City Brewing Company in Cynthiana, KY. They often have a chocolate hazelnut coffee stout on tap they’ve called El Chaco. As you can imagine, those flavors in an iced coffee are a match made in heaven.

Bonus: Porters also make great iced coffee additions as these dark beers are made similar to stouts. The primary difference here is that porters are made with malted barleys as opposed to the unmalted barleys needed for making a stout.

7- Licor 43

If you’ve heard of Licor 43, then you’re likely already a fan of the Spanish Carajillo. This cocktail completely took me by surprise, and now it’s my go-to way to enjoy an after dinner spiked coffee treat as this is commonly thought to aid in digestion.

Licor 43 is a Mexican liqueur made with a blend of citrus and other fruit juices combined with vanilla, herbs, and spices.

If you’ve not tried citrus flavors in coffee, this can sound a bit off putting, but trust me, these flavors over ice with espresso are so smooth, so well-rounded, and so incredibly delicious.

After trying a Spanish Carajillo, I’ve also enjoyed adding Licor 43 to other cold brewed coffees made from our Light, Medium, and Dark roasts. I realize these aren’t traditional Licor 43 pairings, but I truly haven’t found a cold brew or espresso that I haven’t enjoyed with the addition of this liqueur.

To make a Spanish Carajillo, simply add ice to a chilled cocktail glass, then pour 2 ounces of Licor 43 over the ice and top with 2 ounces of prepared and cooled Lifeboost Organic Espresso Coffee. Stir slightly, then enjoy immediately!

8- Flavored Liqueurs

We were going to bring you ten different categorical selections here today, but we narrowed things down to eight as we’ll be covering several flavored liqueurs in this last section.

This list isn’t entirely exhaustive as I’m sure some of you may have a few suggestions of your own that we’ve not covered here. If you can think of other liqueurs or alcoholic coffee add-ins, be sure to let us know your favorite boozy coffee additions in the comment section!


Amaretto is a sweet, Italian liqueur made from steeped almonds, apricot pits, and peach stones. It’s often considered a romantic liqueur, and when using this in coffee, here’s one time when you may wish to use a slightly less potent brew.

While strong coffees like espresso and cold brew hold up well in other cocktails, using Amaretto in these types of coffee can hide the rich flavors in the liqueur.

When used in iced coffee, a medium roast or lighter will allow you to fully savor all the delicate notes in this sweet Italian offering.


Slightly nuttier than the almond infused amaretto, Frangelico is an Italian liqueur made with hazelnuts.

Frangelico also often boasts notes of cocoa, coffee, and vanilla, which, as you can imagine, pairs wonderfully with both hot or iced coffees.

Chocolate Liqueur

Mochas aren’t only enjoyed hot. Don’t believe me? Try adding chocolate liqueur (or white chocolate liqueur) to your next boozy iced coffee!

If you’re a white chocolate fan, Sheelins white chocolate cream liqueur effortlessly turns a normal iced coffee into pure velvet. Warning…it’s easy to over indulge with this perfect coffee addition.

Godiva has an incredible chocolate liqueur as well which will instantly turn your ordinary iced coffee into extraordinary.

And, one great element of these boozy additions is that they also aid in tying in other liquors with coffee. For instance, when making a chocolate espresso martini, the addition of chocolate liqueur helps to smooth out the hardness of the vodka.

Butterscotch Schnapps

Most commonly, schnapps differ from liqueurs in that they are sweetened with fruit as opposed to sweeter offerings like chocolate. However, we’ve included butterscotch schnapps here in the liqueur section because…well…have you tried butterscotch schnapps in coffee? Spoiler alert: it’s absolutely amazing!!

When I’m using butterscotch schnapps in iced coffee, I love adding equal parts cold brewed Lifeboost Medium Roast Coffee, butterscotch schnapps, and Kahlua. When incorporating these, I’ll typically add them to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously to get a good foam going.

Then, simply pour the cocktail over ice in a glass and stir in a bit of heavy cream if you’d like.

And, if you want to be a bit extra (I usually do), you can actually add your heavy cream to an electric frother and froth on the cold setting with about a teaspoon of vanilla powder. Top your boozy iced coffee with this creamy foam topper, then drizzle with a little bit of butterscotch sauce (like the kind you use to top ice cream).

Grand Marnier

We’ve mentioned how the unlikely pairing of citrus and coffee works well, and this orange flavored liqueur is proof in that pudding.

A shot of Grand Marnier in a small iced coffee with a bit of orange zest makes the perfect, refreshing summer evening treat.

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Cold Brew Packs.

Headshot of Becky Livingston Vance
Becky Livingston Vance Content writer

Becky is a mother, educator, and content writer for Lifeboost Coffee. She has had three years’ experience as a writer, and in that time she has enjoyed creatively composing articles and ebooks covering the topics of coffee, health and fitness, education, recipes, and relationships.


Drop a Comment

All comments are moderated before being published