Brunch Drinks: Alps Coffee


[Photograph: Heather Arndt Anderson]

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Ah, the Alps: that idyllic countryside, full of birdsong and blooming edelweiss and the sound of music. The mere mention of the Alps evokes images of hot chocolate and flaxen-haired milkmaids, but why? Perhaps instead it should make us think of this delightful brunch drink, a drunken coffee enhanced with a little kirsch and Frangelico.

How did this drink come together? Where I live, in Portland, Oregon, we drink a lot of coffee, and we also love cocktails at brunch. Two of Oregon's major agricultural products are hazelnuts and cherries (fact: we produce more hazelnuts than anyone in North America, and are second in the world only to Turkey), and these both happen to be flavors of booze from two countries in the Alps. Frangelico is a hazelnut liqueur from Piedmont in the northern, Alpine part of Italy. Kirschwasser, or kirsch, is a cherry brandy enjoyed in Switzerland as the national liquor. Clear Creek Distillery, here in Portland, makes exquisite kirschwasser from local cherries, and that's what I used for this fortified coffee.

To make this cocktail, you'll start with a cup of coffee the way you like it—I prefer mine strong enough to put hair on your chest, but with sugar and half n' half because I'm a dainty flower—and spike it with Frangelico and kirsch. Top it with a spoonful of freshly-whipped cream, a few scratches of nutmeg and some curls of dark chocolate. The hills are alive, indeed.

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