How to Make Cowboy Coffee, or the perfect boost to survive hump day.

How to Make the Cowboy Coffee CocktailIt’s hump day, the middle of the week is here, and none of us really feel like getting up in the morning.  We are all familiar with brunch cocktails and whether you are a fan of mimosas, bellinis or bloody marys,  they don’t do that much to help you wake up on your average morning.  There is however a beautifully simple cocktail that’ll balances great flavor with an extra burst of energy to get you up and ready to work and that is the Cowboy Coffee Cocktail!

Cowboy Coffee Cocktail
  • 2.5 oz Bourbon
  • 0.5 oz Demerara Simple Syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 dark roast coffee beans
  • garnish with a flamed lemon peel and coffee bean

Begin by muddling the 2 dark roast coffee beans in the bottom of a shaker.  Once the beans have been crushed, add the bourbon, bitters, and syrup and top with ice.  Shake until chilled and then strain into a coupe glass or champagne flute.  Garnish with a flamed lemon peel and single coffee (whole) coffee bean.  I’s a simple cocktail with a great flavor and kick, and even better there are a lot of choices that allow you to customize it further.

The first choice is all about the sweetness.  Demerara simple syrup is exactly what you would expect – 1 part demerara sugar and 1 part water.  Demerara sugar, also called turbinado sugar,  is a less refined form of sugar and thus has a higher mineral content and slightly more nutritional value.  It’s a great choice for cocktails, becuase not only is the premium sugar on the market, but it is used in such small quantities that it won’t adversely affect overall cost of the drink.

The next two choices you will need to make are about presentation, but will also affect the overall flavor.  When choosing between the glasses, I usually go with the coupe glass for Cowboy Coffee.  I tend to enjoy higher proof bourbons, and the glasses design allows a bit more room for the cocktail to breathe, enhancing the experience.  Another issue that you will discover is that assuming you did a good job at muddling the coffee beans, your shaker’s strainer will not be fine enough to catch all the particles.  I personally like this drink a little bit rough around the edges and from drinking Arab and Turkish coffee have grown accustomed to consuming pieces of coffee beans, but that experience is not for everyone.  You may want to get a finer strainer to filter out these little chunks of coffee beans.

The last big choice is that of bourbon.  Bourbon is the backbone of this cocktail, but it’s simple nature leads to a lot of flexibility in the bourbon you choose.  I’ve made this cocktail, with cheap bourbons like Old Crow, industry standards like Evan Williams, Buffalo Trace and Jim Beam, and premium bourbons such as Blanton’s and Angel’s Envy.  Everytime the cocktail was delicious, and everytime it tasted like a new drink.  Use your favorite bourbon or the bourbon that suits your mood, you can’t go wrong with the Cowboy Coffee Cocktail!

Total cost per drink? ~$1.23

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Posted in Bourbon, Celebration Drinks, Cheap Cocktails, Dollar Drinks

Happy Newman’s Day! Or the perfect excuse to drink 24 beers in 24 hours.

Newman's Day

Today is a special day for beer lovers.  Not because it is a day about great beer, but because it is a challenge involving beer.  For today, 4/24, is Newman’s Day.  The day is rumored to have started because of a quote by the late beer-loving actor Paul Newman in a speech to college students: “24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case.  Coincidence?  I think not!”  Although the actor himself did not approve of the tradition, Newman’s Day has grown to have quite a strong following, especially at Princeton University and Bates College, where students have been rising to the challenge for decades.

The basic rules for completing a Newman’s Day are as follows:

  1. You must consume 24 beers in the 24 hour between 12:00am and 11:59pm on April 24th.
  2. One beer should be consumed each hour.
  3. You are not allowed to sleep at all during this time.  If you sleep, your beer count is reset.
  4. You are not allowed to boot at all during this time.  If you boot, your beer count is reset.
  5. The use of stimulants such as caffeine is strongly discouraged.
  6. You must proceed with your normal daily activities.  If you work, got to work.  If you have classes, go to class.  In fact any schedule activity must be intended and you must function as though you are a normal person not insane enough to attempt a Newman’s Day.

Good luck to those participating!  Having completed three Newman’s Days myself, I can tell you it was hell of a lot of fun.  And if you’ve never tried it, why not plan on doing it next year?  Next April 24th is a Friday…won’t that be fun?


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Posted in Beer, Culture

Easter Candy Infusions! Or a more interesting way to enjoy candy than eating it.

Today is Easter Sunday, a day that has become synonymous with a vast abundance of themed candies.  Candies like Peeps and jelly beans may not seem to have a lot in common at first glance, other than their inherent sweetness, but they all share one important feature: they are great for infusing your favorite spirits with unique and delicious flavors!  For this edition of Sunday Funday, we are going to keep things simple, and focus on infused vodkas and white rums, because the clean fairly neutral quality of these base spirits allows you to build complex and interesting flavors that bring out each of these candies.

Peeps VodkaPeeps Vodka

It’s just a simple as any other infusion covered on this site.  Place the Peeps in a mason jar, cover with vodka, and let rest in a dark space for several days (until the flavor saturates the vodka).  Shake the jar daily to agitate the Peeps and keep them releasing their flavor.  Taste test occasionally to see if has reached the sweetness you desire, then strain the infused vodka into a new bottle.


What other Easter candies are worth a try?

Jelly BeanJelly Bean Vodka & Rum

The best part of Jelly Beans is the amazing variety of flavors and colors that they come in. You can make vodka any shade of the rainbow, and for a special treat, try mixing the cocktail classic series jelly beans with the correct spirit!  You’ve got some great new cocktail shots flavored in Pina Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri, Mojito, Peach Bellini, Pomegranate Cosmo.  Just don’t forget to sort before infusing, or your flavors won’t turn out as stunning as you may hope.


Lifesaver Gummies VodkaLifesaver Gummies Vodka & Rum

How are these easter related?  Because they are the Bunnies and Eggs edition!  The best part about these little gummies is that not only do they work great with vodka or rum, but after you are done infusing your spirit and strain it into a new bottle, you are left with delicious spiked gummies that have a nice little boozy kick to their original sweetness.  Just be sure not to leave the gummies in much past the three day mark, or you will be left with a gummy slushie rather than infused spirit and spiked gummies.


Hoppin Nerds Vodka

Hoppin Nerds Vodka

These little candies can be a bit of a pain to strain at the end of the infusion process but I felt they were necessary to include as they are one of the few Easter candies that isn’t just sweet.  The tanginess of the nerds actually makes this infusion a lot more versatile in cocktails than all of the sweet infusions listed above.  It can also work as a great palate cleanser after munching on a lot of Easter candy.



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Posted in Dollar Drinks, Rum, Sunday Funday, Vodka

How to make the Pegu Club, or finding the connection between colonial Burma and your cocktail glass

How to Make the Pegu ClubAfter a long absence of new content, I am happy to announce that Broke &  Thirsty is back up and running!  Now that warmth has once again graced the North East of the US, we will get back to make fantastic classic cocktails at reasonable prices.  Today’s elegant cocktail is a lovely gin-based sipper from the days of Colonial British Burma.  A gentlemen’s club in Rangoon frequented by British military types was the birthplace and namesake for this delicious cocktail: the Pegu Club.  While the club itself was sadly burned down by the Japanese during the turmoil that was WWII, the Pegu Club cocktail has had world wide success and deserves your attention.

The Pegu Club
  • 2 parts Gin (1.5 ounces)
  • 1 part Curacao (0.75 ounces)
  • lime juice (~1 tsp)
  • 1 dash angostura bitters
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • garnish: lime twist

Add all ingredients to an ice filled mixing glass and stir.  Stir just enough to chill the cocktail, but not enough to dilute its unique flavor profile (about 15 seconds).  Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lime twist.  The subtle profile of this cocktail relies on the choice of gin.  Juniper forward gin’s like Tanqueray may make a great Gin and Tonic, but for the Pegu Club you want a smoother, more balanced gin.  For the premium cocktail where cost is no concern, gins like Beefeater, Hendricks or Bombay Sapphire are no-brainers for the Pegu Club, but their price point makes it a much more pricey cocktail than necessary.  For an excellent balanced bargain cocktail, I recommend New Amsterdam Gin.  This perfectly priced handle of gin (it should cost you between $16-18) is unbelievably smooth and not too heavy on any one botanical.  New Amsterdam Gin will let the bitters and lime juice really pop in this refreshing classic and is sure to make you a Pegu Club fan.

Total cost per drink: ~$1.06

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Posted in Cheap Cocktails, Dollar Drinks, Gin, Liqueur

An Interesting Look at European Wages in the Universal Currency of Beer

With all the different currencies and costs of living, the value of the minimum wage can be difficult to understand.  The obvious solution that has so long eluded economists?  Measure it in beer!  The above graphic depicts the number of beers that can be bought in each European country based on the minimum wage and national costs of beer.  The clear winner?  Belgium, with a staggering 1028 beers per month.  For more details, checkout the original article.

Posted in Beer

How to Make the Klondike, or a fitting cocktail for Discovery’s new tv show.

The Klondike Cocktail

The Klondike CocktailWell the reviews are in, and after the first episode, there seems to be a strong divide between those who think Discovery Channel’s newest show “Klondike” is either pure gold or still hunting for it.  One thing everyone should be able to agree on is the perfect drink for the show:  something a bit old, something involving whiskey, and most importantly something absolutely delicious.  From the classic Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, comes the perfect cocktail, the Klondike.

The Klondike
  • 2 oz Makers Mark
  • 2 oz Vermouth
  • ginger ale
  • (optional) garnish with an orange wedge

Pour the Maker’s Mark  and vermouth over ice into a Collins glass.  Top off with ginger ale and stir till chilled.  Garnish with an orange wedge and serve.  For a fun and slightly unexpected twist, I recommend replacing the vermouth with fresh squeezed orange juice (if that isn’t available, any brand that isn’t made from concentrate will fit the bill sufficiently).  I saw this adaption on Difford’s Guide, and although this cocktail boasts a hefty dose of whiskey, the orange juice and ginger ale tone down the tones of the whiskey a bit making this drink enjoyable for even those poor souls who don’t normally like the taste of whiskey.  While the adapted orange juice version is fruitier and hides the whiskey, I personally prefer the nuance in the original Klondike.  Make both and see which you prefer!

Although Maker’s Mark is the brand of choice for this cocktail, it is actually not my favorite option.  When recipe’s call for Maker’s Mark, they most often simply mean that you should use a wheated bourbon (ie a bourbon distilled from a mash containing a lot of wheat).  Weller Special Reserve and Weller Antique 107 are both available for around $20 or less, and Weller 12 Year is right around the same price point of Maker’s Mark ($25-30).  If you can get a hold of a bottle, Weller 12 Year makes for a great experience that will elevate this simple cocktail to a new level.  Happy sipping and enjoy the show!

Total cost per drink? ~$1.35

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Posted in Bourbon, Cheap Cocktails, Vermouth, Whiskey

Technically Saturday: Your Guide to Types of Beer

Although this blog doesn’t often discuss beer, it is occasionally used in the cocktails.  Talking about beer as though it is all the same is just about as oblivious as assuming that every distillery that produces whisk(e)y,  be it in America, Canada, Ireland, Japan or Scotland is exactly the same.  Only beer is even a bit more complicated than that.  There are seemingly countless types of beer, and it can be difficult to get a grasp on them all, but I stumbled upon a great resource the other day that gives a great  short description of each type of beer.  I grabbed a quick screenshot of types of beer and encourage you to learn more over at the great beer blog The Perfectly Happy Man.  They also have some fantastic beer photographs and a large database of craft beer reviews.  Enjoy!

Types of Beer

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Posted in Beer, Technically Saturday

Sunday Funday: The Golden Globes, or Another Excuse for Mixing Booze and Bubbly


Tonight marks the celebration of the best 2013 had to offer in terms of film and television: the 71st Golden Globes!  Unlike the formality of the Oscars, the Golden Globes is a boisterous party filled with drunken actors, producers, directors, and other cast members.  So what type of drinks are good for the occasion?  How about continuing what we left off on New Years and keep on mixing spirits with bubbly in these two great cocktails!

The Negroni SbagliatoThe Negroni Sbagliato
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Sweet Red Vermouth
  • 1 oz Sparkling Wine
  • (optional) garnish with an orange wheel

Fill a rocks glass with ice and pour in the Campari, vermouth and sparkling wine. Gently stir until mixed.  Garnish with an orange wheel and serve.  The name of this drink translates from the Italian to “the bungled negroni” and it gets its name from substituting the sparkling wine in for the original gin in a classic negroni.  Despite the name, there is absolutely nothing inferior about this cocktail and it magnificently blends the pungent bitterness from the Campari with the subtle sweetness of the sparkling wine into a masterpiece.  Sure to please even the most discerning drinker, it is a drink best sipped slowly and savored right up until you make yourself another one.


The Classic BarbotageThe Classic Barbotage
  • 1/2 oz Cognac (or other Brandy)
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
  • 4 oz Sparkling Wine
  • garnish with an orange twist

Pour the cognac and orange liqueur into the bottom of a champagne flute.  Swirl or stir till mixed,  then top off with chilled sparkling wine.  Garnish with an orange twist and serve.  This drink was created in France and like many cocktails from the 1800s, was first developed as a cure.  A rather useful cure in fact as it is targeted to cure the common hangover.  In fact the cocktail’s name means either “bubbly” or “spinal anesthesia.”  The best part of this cocktail however isn’t its curing abilities, but rather it’s flavor – subtle orange notes with the strength of cognac and the lightness of champagne.  It is a drink which is perfect for toasts and equally enjoyable whether sipped or downed quickly.  If you have one, you are bound to have another, so you better get started on that first one!

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Posted in Brandy, Cheap Cocktails, Cognac, Dollar Drinks, Liqueur, Sparkling Wine, Sunday Funday, Vermouth

How to Make a Hot Toddy, or the Workhorse of Winter Cocktails

How to Make the Hot Toddy, National Hot Toddy  DayIt’s National Hot Toddy Day!  But actually, look it up, it’s a thing.  The hot toddy is a wonderfully versatile hot drink which can be served with almost every imaginable booze and hot drink combination.  To get our footing, the following is a great simple recipe for the hot toddy on which many variations can be made to taste.

The Basic Hot Toddy
  • 2 oz Spirit
  • 0.5 oz honey
  • 6 oz hot water

Mix all ingredients in a mug and stir with a cocktail spoon until the honey has fully dissolved. Garnish with whatever you like – I love to garnish the basic hot toddy with a small mint sprig or citrus wheel.  Hot toddies were developed sometime in the early 18th century in Scotland.  While no one remembers exactly why it was created, historians believe that the recipe was designed to make the taste of scotch whisky more palatable, especially for women.  The  word “toddy” has been suggested to have evolved from “Tod’s well”, the historic water supply for the city of Edinburgh.  The hot toddy quickly became a cold weather favorite and grew more popular as the spirits used diversified.

From here, the possibilities are endless and you can begin to see how much of a workhorse the hot toddy truly is.  Almost any spirit can be used if utilized in the right combination with the hot liquid, although brandy, rum and whiskey are the standard choices.  And the hot liquid choices are equally vast.  Want a bit more flavor?  Try tea, coffee, cocoa, or apple cider.  (My grandmother insists that hot toddy’s need to be made with warm coke, so really anything is possible.)  Want to enhance the cocktail a bit?  Try different sweeteners (sugar, maple syrup, agave…), lemon, bitters, spices, butter…really anything that you can think of is worth a try.  Want to make a hot toddy for a cold or the flu?  Add some cinnamon sticks and cloves to the basic recipe to soothe your throat, clear your sinuses, and relieve a stuffy head. The hot toddy is great drink for every winter occasion and is well worthy of celebrating today on National Hot Toddy Day!

Total cost per drink? ~$0.78

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Posted in Bourbon, Brandy, Canadian Whiskey, Cognac, Dollar Drinks, Gin, Irish Whiskey, Moonshine, Rum, Rye, Scotch, Tequila, Vodka, Whiskey
Nick McAfee
Nick McAfee is a student of Princeton University and is passionate about mixology. As a student with a low monthly income, he has developed ways to create simple cocktails with complex flavors from inexpensive ingredients. Learn more about Nick and Broke & Thirsty.
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