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How to Make a Coffee Nudge Cocktail: Recipe & Pictures

coffee nudge cocktail

Our love of coffee gives us a soft spot for coffee-based after-dinner drinks but don’t let our bias distract you from the delicious masterpiece that is the coffee nudge cocktail. It’s the perfect warming drink for cold winter nights, but we wouldn’t complain if we were offered one in the middle of August either.

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Simple Coffee Nudge Recipe:

The coffee nudge is a powerful drink featuring several spirits that all play nicely with each other and with coffee. Coffee-lover or not, we’re willing to bet this will become one of your favorite cocktails. Keep reading to learn how to make this less common coffee cocktail.

  • 6-8 ounces of strong coffee
  • ¾ ounce creme de cacao
  • ¾ ounce Kahlua
  • ½ ounce brandy
  • Whipped cream

1. Make strong coffee.

Make a strong cup of coffee. It’s common to use stronger coffee in cocktails to preserve the coffee flavor and ensure that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. The coffee nudge is particularly susceptible to this because it uses three spirits that compete with the coffee for your attention.

2. Combine with coffee liqueurs.

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail glass in the following order: coffee, creme de cacao, Kahlua, brandy. The order is chosen to attempt to induce a slight layering effect. In reality, you probably won’t wind up with a strong separation, so don’t worry too much about it.

3. Garnish with whipped cream.

Top with whipped cream. If you have some extra time and energy, consider whipping heavy cream yourself. We always opt for whipped heavy cream when we can. It’s a somewhat subtle difference, but hand-whipped heavy cream has a richness that canned whipped cream lacks.

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Coffee Nudge Cocktail Tips:

In this section, we’ll give you some helpful tips for preparing a coffee nudge and some ideas for variations you can try when you feel like spicing things up.

Coffee Selection

Usually, we recommend dark roasts for coffee cocktails because of their robust flavor. When you make a coffee cocktail, you have to be careful not to overpower the coffee with other flavors. In a coffee nudge specifically, brandy and Kahlua are both prominent flavors, so you might think that a bold, in-your-face coffee would be the best choice.

We’ve experimented with different roast levels and found that our favorite coffee nudge uses a medium roast rather than an oily dark roast. Although many ingredients are vying for your palate’s attention, our theory is that they are well-balanced in terms of tasting notes. That means that they separate a bit on your tongue rather than bunch up and make a muddy mess.

Brew Strength

Even though we prefer a slightly milder medium roast in our coffee nudge, we still brew it stronger than we would if we were drinking it straight. There’s no need to go overboard dialing up the dose, but an extra half scoop goes a long way to balancing out the drink.


There are a ton of ways you can make this recipe your own. One of our favorites is to garnish with some chocolate shavings. The sweet punch is a nice addition, and coffee and chocolate are hardly an unusual combination.

Another one of our favorite garnishes is ground nutmeg. Be careful with this one; a little pinch goes a long way. We’ve overdone it before by adding too much nutmeg, and the result was unpleasant. Start with the tiniest pinch you can and adjust it from there. It’s better to have too little than it is to load up on nutmeg and ruin the drink.

Cinnamon also makes a decent topping, but once again, it can easily become the dominant flavor if you add too much. We like the combination of brandy and cinnamon since both have a warming effect on the tongue. Some people might not like this, though, so we only recommend it for people who love cinnamon.

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The coffee nudge is a less common drink than many other coffee-based alcoholic beverages. We’re not sure why it isn’t as popular as its brethren, but it is underrated and worth trying. It is a little on the strong side in terms of alcohol, but it will definitely warm you right up on a blustery, snowy night. It’s also a great drink to make your own by experimenting with different garnishes and looking for something that strikes your fancy.

We hope you enjoyed this guide and will try our coffee nudge recipe! Break it out during the holidays to impress your guests and give them a taste of something they probably haven’t had before.

Featured Image: Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock

Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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