The Essential Guide to Coffee Liqueur

Almost every niche drink ingredient that has risen to prominence has been championed by a classic cocktail. Absolut Citron had the Cosmopolitan, crème de menthe the Grasshopper, crème de violette the Aviation, and coffee liqueur the Espresso Martini.

While the craze surrounding that particular coffee cocktail led to a 24 percent increase in sales of coffee liqueur in 2020, craft options have been steadily entering the market over the past three decades. In fact, Mr. Black, the fastest-growing brand in the global coffee liqueur category over the past five years, debuted in 2013 and was subsequently acquired by the multinational drinks giant Diageo in September 2022.

Many of these modern coffee liqueur brands have been patiently waiting for their moment in the spotlight, and the resurgence of the 1980s classic has finally provided them with a stage to demonstrate to bartenders why their brand deserves a spot on the backbar or bar cart. The category shows no signs of slowing down in the near future, and consumers can anticipate an influx of even more new brands in the coming years. Nevertheless, sometimes tried-and-true methods are the best. Here, amidst the inevitable decision fatigue, are a few of the most important coffee liqueurs to consider, along with suggestions for their use.

Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur

This award-winning, unfiltered coffee liqueur is made with Australian grain spirit and Papua New Guinean, Colombian, and Kenyan arabica coffee beans. As part of the production process, these beans are roasted in-house, demonstrating the brand’s commitment to overseeing every step of the beans’ journey from field to glass. To highlight the quality of the coffee, the liqueur is prepared slowly with purified cold water and a cold brewing method in order to preserve the subtle and complex flavors of the beans.

Mr. Black is drier than most other coffee liqueurs and has a more natural coffee flavor, according to Harrison Ginsberg, bar manager at the Overstory in New York. The texture is distinct from other coffee liqueurs in that it is less viscous and not overly sweet. Ginsberg notes that Mr. Black liqueur pairs particularly well with warm baking spices like cardamom and ginger in spirit-forward cocktails that are stirred. He adds, “It can be used similarly to vermouth or fortified wine in cocktails like the Manhattan.”

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