Remember when you were just a pre-teen hanging out at the mall without a smartphone (but maybe with a pager covered in glitter nail polish), and on your way to Spencer’s you’d smell the freshly-brewed coffee wafting out of Gloria Jean’s? And it smelled so fucking good, right?! If you were anything like me, those mall days gave you a very specific idea of what coffee tasted like. And when you finally took a swig of coffee that didn’t come out of the “latte” machine at a gas station, you were likely as disappointed as I was. Well, this cold coffee cocktail is for your inner mall rat, because it tastes exactly like what coffee smells like it tastes like when you’re 12.
The basic idea for this drink came to me six or seven summers ago. By then I was definitely a fan of black coffee, and I was doing communications for a local roaster. On a disgustingly hot day — like the under-boob sweat was out of control, you guys, even in the air conditioning — I was craving a cold, bubbly coffee drink (because my caffeine addiction was serious given my job, and I’ve always loved bubbles).
Such a drink didn’t exist yet, at least to my knowledge, and that was still a few years before the Internet would lose its collective shit over espresso tonics. I decided to play around with mixers, and figured cream soda might work well because the flavors would mimic the cream and sugar people often put in coffee. I was right, and the result was a refreshing, sweet caffeinated treat.
Fast forward a few years, and I decided to put booze in it. Actually, that’s a silly story that has to do with me writing one piece about my favorite cocktail, then out of financial desperation, pitching a weekly pop-culture inspired cocktail column to a men’s lifestyle site. The editor accepted, and the next day Miley Cyrus danced the twerk heard round the world, so the first official piece in my first-ever cocktail column was an even creamier and sweeter and more confusing version of this cold coffee cocktail called “The Twerk.” If you ask nicely, maybe I’ll leave the link in the comments later today. But, shit, the picture was so, so, so, so, so, so bad. So bad.
Anyway, this cold coffee cocktail is good, if a little sweet. That’s why I add about six hearty dashes of Angostura bitters at the end. Of course, you should feel free to play with the proportions of all of it. And obviously, you can leave out the vodka if you’d like.
THE GLORIA JEAN CREAM DREAM
2 ounces vodka
3 ounces cold brew (or chilled) coffee
4-6 dashes Angostura Bitters
Add the vodka and coffee to a double rocks glass, Old-Fashioned glass, or small tumbler, then had a handful of ice. Top it off with the cream soda, then add the bitters. Stir and enjoy.
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