If there's been one simple message that's come out of the Four Loko hullaballoo, it's that mixing caffeine and alcohol is a bad idea. Now that this preliminary is out of the way, let's get down to doing that very thing.
There are plenty of versions of the Hot Coffee Grog floating around in the booze world. Some contain cream or butter (or, in one tiki-fied version, coconut cream), and some are laced with a range of liqueurs.
This particular version, adapted from Charles H. Baker, Jr.'s The South American Gentleman's Companion from 1951, has neither (well, unless you follow my optional suggestion in the recipe). The drink starts with a rich Demerara rum (a classic liquor base) with fresh-brewed coffee, and a little sweetener—honey or brown sugar, take your choice. Baker's version adds a little flavorful drama with the inclusion of a few classic baking spices, which are certainly appropriate for the coming holiday season, and boosts the aromatics just a bit with a final lacing of heady Jamaican rum.
I've made my own modifications to the recipe below. Baker calls for the coffee to be diluted with a little hot water, which I found unnecessary if you're using a decent brew. He also didn't have a good allspice liqueur such as St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, which can contribute to the spice's fragrant character without the grittiness of ground spice in the drink, so I'm including that as an option.
Finally, Baker's version of the recipe calls for two solid ounces of a roaring 151-proof Demerara rum, plus the accent from the Jamaican rum. That's Four Loko direction right there, so I'd suggest replacing the rocket fuel with a more manageable 80-proof Demerara rum: Lemon Hart or El Dorado 12-year both work well, and if you want the extra bounce of flavor and power that comes with the high-octane stuff, you can always mix the two. I'd start with 1/2 ounce of the high-proof to 1 1/2 of the lower-proof rum, so it doesn't get too crazy right at the outset.
If the "blackout in a can" incidents of the past few weeks have taught us anything, it's to be careful with these types of drinks. Be forewarned: the Hot Coffee Grog has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, and as much alcohol as your typical cocktail (assuming you're keeping the high-proof rum away from the mix); plus, since the drink is served piping hot, chugging is discouraged. Hmm, maybe the caffeine/alcohol combo isn't always as bad as we've heard. Regardless; be safe.
- 2 ounces Demerara rum: Lemon Hart and El Dorado 12 are good choices
- 4 whole cloves (or 1/4 tsp. ground cloves)
- 4 to 6 ounces fresh-brewed coffee, to taste
- 1/4 ounce allspice liqueur (or 1/4 tsp. ground allspice)
- 2 teaspoon honey or brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 ounce Jamaican rum: Appleton Estate Extra is a good choice
- long strip of orange zest, for garnish
In a tall, heatproof glass or mug, dissolve the sugar or honey in a little hot coffee, then add the remaining ingredients. Stir with the cinnamon stick; garnish.