Many moons ago when I first started out in the business, I was working the bar in a brand new Embassy Suites Hotel on Camelback Road in Phoenix, AZ. One of our preps was to make fresh whipped cream each evening behind the bar, for hot drinks during the cooler/winter months, and blended and cream drinks for warmer/summer months. It wasn't until the last few years watching the beverage palate shift into the endless flavorfest it is today, that the same form of expanding could be done with the use of fresh whipping cream, enhancing this garnish as a creative closer (and beginning) to a drink, whether it be blended with drop-dashes of spirited liqueurs/schnapps, a drink with no alcohol using the various flavors of Italian syrups, or the use of flavored sugars available on the market today.
I've been adding a few drops of green creme de menthe atop whipped cream for the Irish Coffee and Nutty Dubliner for years, with bar patrons getting a surprise grin when they see it coming. That great color of the flag at the top. Not much though, just a little is enough. You want it as a visual compliment to the drink, with just a touch-addition of flavor, not to mess with the main flavor ingredients of the cocktail itself. This works great, but when blended in fresh, is better. Either way, preparation is the key. You need a clean blender and some fresh whipping cream you can get at your local grocery or whole foods store. Have some sugars nearby off to the side for possible use. These won't be necessarily light whips, as whipping cream is normally heavier and more dense, but it's for good reason. Last but not least is a selection of tempered, yet sizable glassware that goes well with these "hot" categories of drink.
Temperatures and Proof
Temps of the liquids going into the blender matter to a great degree. It is best for everything to be cold. The whipping cream, the liqueurs and syrups. There's better bonding so to speak when the liquids aren't compromising their solidity for neutral ground, temperature-wise. The process of density, quickens.
Spirits naturally have a bit of a heat element to them, therefore it's always best for what we're creating here, to start them off cold. Some liqueurs have a very low spirit-base to them, while the proof in others can be higher and more pronounced. If so, this equates to more alcohol and less sugars, resulting in a thinner liquid going in. If the chosen liqueur is low in proof (ABV), meaning less alcohol and more sugars overall, this results in a thicker liquid with a slight syrupy texture, better for blending and becoming in the whipped state with the cream. This is true for almost the entire schnapps category, where there's normally a great deal of fruit sugars and low proof. There are a few select schnapps though, specially produced with a much higher alcohol content in mind, of which you won't normally consider for blending purposes.
When a customer receives the coffee cocktail they ordered, the first sip can end up being less than hot, more like lukewarm. There could be a combination of reasons why, like:
- The tempered glass used to prepare the drink in is not pre-heated first, to some degree.
- Glassware for coffee cocktails should be larger in oz. amount, so the heat of the liquid powers the glass hot, instead of the other way around. Some standard sizes today are for more of a quick sipper instead of a drink to lounge with for a while.
- When the addition of the recipe's room temp liqueurs goes into the hot coffee, it reduces in temperature naturally, then comes the cool-temped whipped cream at the top. The hot part of the drink needs more of a fighting chance to stay hot longer. The amount of liqueurs used would be best to not exceed beyond 1½ oz in total, for it's meant to gently flavor the coffee, not take it over. Other hot drinks like toddies, teas, hot ciders, cobblers, grogs and hot chocolate need similar attention when preparing so the drink always arrives to the customer at the right temperature. Make sure the hot liquid of the recipe is piping hot going in, because it won't stay that way for very long when everything else hits it.
Like we already see the bartending practice of dusting accents of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger spice, allspice, apple spice, coconut shavings, cocoa powder, and other potentially workable spices, sugars, chopped nuts and liqueur dashes over the top of whipped cream, all we’re really doing now is taking it one step, deeper. Call it “Whipfusing”.
There is such a range of liqueurs and schnapps to choose from for the process of fusing with whipping cream, including fruity, herbal, medicinal, nutty, floral, and cream (emulsified).
The following entries are a good start for experimentation with bar masters and chefs.
-Afrikoko -Agwa -Amadeus -Amaretto -Amsterdam -Ava Tahiti -Bauchant Napoleon -Benedictine -Berentzen -Blue Curacao -Canton -Caymana -Celtic Crossing -Chambord -Cherry Marnier -Claristine -Clement Creole -Cloudberry -Cointreau -Creme Boulard -Creme de Cassis -Creme de Noyaux -Damiana -Domaine Charbay -Dracula’s Potion -Drambuie -Dulceda -Eau de Vie -Frangelico -Galliano -Godiva -Gran Caffe -Illy -Intrigue -Izarra -Kahana Royale -Kahlua -Kamasutra -Ke Ke Beach -La Grande Passion -Licor 43 -Lillehammer -Limoncello -Luxardo -Maraschino -Mathilde -Maui -Medoc -Midori -Milady -Mirabelle -Mozart -Nocello -Orchid -Pama -Paolina -Passoa -Parfait Amour -Pisang Ambon -Pistachia -RedCliff -Rose Essence -Sabra -Safari -Sambuca -Sence -Shakka -Silhouette -Snow Storm -St. Germain -Strega -Taboo -Trappistine -Tuaca -Ty Ku -Uphoria -Vandermint -Velvet Falernum -Vermeer -Waldheidelbeer -X-Rated -Zamoura
Read: Learn Your Liqueurs for more about the individual liqueurs mentions