15 Boozy Additions To Spike Your Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is a summertime go-to for many of us, and we're always looking for ways to make a good thing even better. This year, we'll be adding iced coffee to our happy hour rotation, and we couldn't be more pleased. Read on to see some of our top recommendations for boozy picks to pair with cold brew and loads of ice and make your summer days even tastier.

But before you do, let's talk about the best options for these beverages, particularly the coffee part. While there's nothing wrong with saving unused coffee from this morning's pot (waste not, want not ... we get it), we have some advice if you're making a fresh batch for your cocktails. For the most part, a bold espresso is usually the way to go. Not only will the addition of melting ice dilute your coffee, but the coldness will also dampen the rich flavors, too. If you've ever made ice cream, you know what we're talking about. We also recommend making ice cubes from coffee if you're worried about too much dilution because nobody wants a watery coffee cocktail, do they?


How about a coffee-based upgrade to one of the most riffed-on cocktails of all time? The old-fashioned has been made in a stunning number of variations, especially since making a comeback in recent years. So it only seems natural that a cold coffee version would make an appearance sooner or later. Your favorite bourbon and a touch of citrus will make that icy coffee sing.

For this cocktail, we highly recommend one particular bar cart staple that's key here. You might not think that a cocktail shaker can make that much of a difference, but for this cocktail and many others on this list, nothing beats a little aeration. Not only that, it will help to dissolve any added sugar while properly chilling all your ingredients. Speaking of which, try a touch of crème de cacao mixed with the espresso, bourbon, and orange bitters in your old-fashioned for a little extra sweetness and flavor.

Chocolate liqueur

Chocolate and coffee are a terrific combination, especially for those with a sweet tooth and a daily coffee habit. Mocha, as it's commonly known, is probably one of the most popular flavored coffee options, and we can highly recommend it for cold-brew fanatics as well. There are many options for boozy chocolate additions to your iced coffee, from flavored vodkas to the standard crème de cacao.

While the latter has gained a bad reputation for being an overly sweet ingredient, there are a few things you need to know about crème de cacao. There are dozens of companies making the chocolatey liqueur, and quality can vary wildly from one to another. Some bartenders also feel that the bitterness of coffee brings out the best qualities of the drink, making it a perfect companion to your cold brew. If you have chocolate bitters on hand, you might find that a dash or two won't go astray here, either.


This one might be obvious, but it's still worth a mention. This sweet hazelnut liqueur is incredibly good with coffee because, while the primary flavor is nutty, it has some undertones of chocolate and vanilla as well. Sounds like perfection, doesn't it? We have an even better idea for you, courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis' Instagram. The perky chef's take on the Italian iced coffee called the shakerato combined iced coffee and melted chocolate that then gets shaken until frothy. But wait ... there's more. Frangelico itself commented on her post, offering up the suggestion to add a splash of the sweet nutty booze to Laurentiis' icy shaken treat.

You can take this idea one step further and add a little vodka, as well. If you find the idea of all that nutty liqueur to be a little too cloying, cut it with a smooth vodka. You can even go for a vanilla vodka (that contains no added sugar) for a fancy hybrid with less sweetness.


Like an amped-up Irish coffee, the Dublin iced version takes the familiar ingredients and adds a serving of rich Guinness (or any stout, honestly), boosting a depth of flavor that's unexpectedly delicious. Stout has a reputation for pairing well with other rich, dark flavors like molasses, chocolate, caramel, or truffles. The addition of Irish whiskey is just a natural upgrade.

Served in a large pint glass and topped with a drizzle of heavy cream, the drink is both rich and just a little frothy. It's not something you'll be able to down multiples of on a hot summer day, but it's definitely refreshing and quite fortifying. Some fans enjoy it served with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, adding a little more spice to an already heady combination. Most recipes also use a little simple syrup to sweeten things up slightly, carefully mixed in to avoid creating a flurry of foam.


This is the coffee-lovers iced coffee — an ultra coffee, if you will. Kahlùa is a rum-based liqueur from Mexico that will definitely quell any caffeine cravings that might strike on a sunny summer afternoon. And yes, it does actually contain caffeine, just not very much. According to the website, an ounce and a half only contains about 5 mg, compared to about 200 mg in a standard cup of coffee.

The truth of Kahlùa is that it also works incredibly well when added to anything creamy, like a White Russian, so use that as a starting point for a really superb boozy iced coffee. It also pairs well with vanilla or chocolate; even a little citrus wouldn't go amiss here. Want to go all out? Try adding a scoop of ice cream for a cold-coffee version of an affogato, the celebrated Italian dessert that combines creamy vanilla ice cream with a pour-over of rich espresso.


Also called an Oaxacan coffee, the addition of mezcal to a cup of rich coffee isn't anything new. The two ingredients balance perfectly to make a smooth and lush cold drink. As summer progresses, you'll find that coffee cocktails are becoming cooler than ever. We like that this particular combination is open to lots of different variations as well, including the addition of anything fruity like a peach liqueur or a drop of rhubarb bitters. Another perfect complement to mezcal's savory taste is a hit of brightness in the form of a citrus twist (orange works particularly well here).

A quick search on the internet also reveals that lots of bars are also adding chocolate bitters, especially anything mole based, to their Oaxacan coffees, playing up the flavors of this Mexican alcohol with spices like chilies, chocolate, cloves, and cinnamon. The smoky flavor of mezcal plays well with all those additions, especially when served with a dollop of cold whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.

Peppermint Schnapps

In the middle of the summer, the combination of icy java and peppermint is like a miracle cure on a sweltering afternoon. Like a lot of the liqueurs on this list, you have a few options when it comes to this minty boozy addition and not all of them are dyed neon green.

Crème de menthe is a popular one, especially if you're adding a little dairy to your cold coffee cocktail. While this liqueur isn't made with dairy, it's commonly mixed with milk, heavy cream, or ice cream because they just work so well together. You can also go with peppermint schnapps, which have more alcohol and less sugar. Schnapps is also quite a bit mintier, whereas crème de menthe tends to have a softer, less intense taste. You may have to adjust the other ingredients in your beverage depending on which minty liqueur you go with, especially any sweetener, as you may find crème de menthe adds enough sweetness on its own.


Often thought of as a drink that's more popular during winter holidays, we feel this tasty option could use more love year-round. While we have loads of suggestions for what you should mix with RumChata, one of our favorite uses is adding this creamy liqueur to a tall glass of cold coffee.

The original beverage is horchata, a popular non-alcoholic Mexican drink made with rice, milk, sugar, and cinnamon. RumChata steps up the deliciousness by adding, as you might have guessed, a healthy amount of rum. If you find that Bailey's is just a little too sweet for your tastes, we think that the less-cloying creaminess and hints of spice are worth a try. Not as heavy or sweet, this liqueur doesn't overpower the flavor of your perfectly cold-brewed coffee, either. For a superb iced coffee, use a cocktail shaker to combine RumChata, cold coffee, and ice, mixing well until frothy. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and you're ready to go.

Rum (Mazagran)

Rum appears on this list often, and for a good reason — coffee and rum are pretty much a match made in flavor heaven. In this case, the tangy iced coffee treat is a Mazagran, a caffeinated lemony mixture (essentially coffee lemonade) named for a small town in Algeria. The citric acidity works especially well with a rich and bold espresso, but it gets even better when you add a splash of rum.

There are so many ways you can make this zippy little treat, too. Instant coffee will work if that's all you've got, as long as you make it strong enough to stand up to the icy dilution and tart lemon. Add honey or a bit of brown sugar if you want sweetness. Depending on the brand of rum you go with, you can play up some of the flavors with a sprinkle of cinnamon. In Portugal, where it has become incredibly popular, it's mostly served with a garnish of mint, along with rum and lemon, for extra refreshment.

Rum (Pharisäeer Kaffee)

Another rum-based cocktail, this German coffee drink is typically served warm, but, like many others on this list, the cold-brew revolution has come for it, too. The pharisäeer kaffee has been popular in Germany since the 1800s and continues to be a popular boozy beverage.

A combination of coffee, rum, and a dollop of whipped cream, the pharisäeer does have a few variations, depending on where you're imbibing. Levels of sweetness and the liquor used can be altered, but one thing never differs — the method of ingestion. The story goes that this particular coffee was made to be drunk during religious services, so the whipped cream covering was there to keep the scent of rum under wraps. Sadly, it didn't work, but to this day, you're meant to indulge without stirring and instead drink through the foam.

Salted Caramel liqueur

Probably one of the best-known alcohol-based coffee companions is Bailey's, the sweet and creamy whiskey liqueur that has been a mainstay in mixed drinks and fancy shots for years. With the massive list of flavors, you know that salted caramel is going to be one of them. But if you're looking for something different, there are lots of other companies producing that flavor, too.

If you want to stick with something creamy, quite a few are on the market, and even the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, has gotten in on the action. If you're not a fan of creamy coffee, there are loads of options out there for you as well, with base liquor ranging from rye to vodka. Another option, if you're particularly gifted in the kitchen, is to make your own salted caramel sauce and combine it with your favorite liquor and cold coffee. Some of us prefer this option because it gives us control over the taste of the caramel syrup.


While you may not be familiar yet with shochu, this Japanese liquor is made from various base ingredients that can include sweet potato, rice, barley, buckwheat, and sugarcane. Koji, a fungus used in culinary applications to create soy sauce, miso, and sake, is added to help ferment and add sweetness to the end product. It's finally starting to find some footing in North America, so keep an eye out for it and give your summer coffee go-to a Japanese spin.

Across Japan, shochu producers have also started adding flavor to their products using green tea, yuzu, or red shiso, as well as soaking coffee beans in liquor. While shochu itself has been described as being pretty close to whiskey or vodka, infusing it will add a whole new depth to the spirit. Coffee, citrus, or chocolate infusions are perfectly suited to making smooth and icy-cold boozy concoctions at home, as well.

Vanilla vodka

Vanilla is another natural partner for the richness of a decent cup of coffee. The soft aromatics temper any bitterness in your brew and add just enough floral notes to bring out a little extra sweetness. But like a lot of other additions on this list, you'll have to pay attention to which product you choose. 

Vanilla is such a popular flavor that you'll have no problem coming up with something to blend into your summer sipper. But that ubiquity can also present you with an overwhelming number of choices, from cheap and artificial to overpriced and cloying. Vanilla vodka might be the way to go if you're looking for something that just adds flavor and scent, without any sugar, leaving you to add sweetness on your own. For something sweeter, try anything from Galliano or Licor 43 to newer additions from all the big producers, including tons of creamy variations.

Whiskey (Irish Coffee)

This particular whiskey-coffee combination takes a standard coffee cocktail hybrid and serves it chilled. Irish coffee has been around for a long time because it's a terrific way to finish off your evening meal. Smooth whiskey and cream liqueur combine with coffee to great effect, and it's just as good when served cold.

If you want to step up this after-dinner beverage even more, go all out and add a scoop of ice cream for an affogato, the ultimate boozy treat. And who are we kidding? This extra-fancy coffee cocktail is perfect for any time of day, no questions asked. On top of that, you don't have to use just plain old vanilla ice cream, either. A dark chocolate gelato would play incredibly well with the cold brew, while coffee-flavored ice cream will knock the socks off anyone who really, really loves their caffeine.

Whiskey (Prairie Buzz)

One last bevvie that we think you'll enjoy is the Prairie Buzz, a rich coffee cocktail developed by Kansas City Whiskey. Much like an Irish coffee, this little number combines whiskey, coffee, and cream but also adds a touch of amaretto liqueur and cinnamon for a little boost. Creamy and nutty, this combination is smooth and just sweet enough.

While you can make this drink with your whiskey of choice, part of the reason this one works so well with the amaretto, in particular, is the infusion of 15-year-old Oloroso sherry into the aging process. Sherry used to be added to lesser-quality whiskies to make them more palatable and was left out as producers got better at manufacturing decent libations. However, the addition here is an homage to the classics and adds a distinct taste that takes this boozy iced coffee over the top. If you're not a hardcore whiskey aficionado, you likely won't be unsettled at the thought of substituting your favorite dram here, however, so use whatever you have on hand.