The Homemade Pantry's Coffee Liqueur

The Homemade Pantry's Coffee Liqueur

[Photograph: Jennifer May]

Coffee liqueur—a given for Irish Coffees and White Russians, but not too much else—is not the most serious of drinks. But that is precisely why Alana Chernila's recipe for coffee liqueur from The Homemade Pantry is genius.

A bottle of cheap vodka (please don't waste the good stuff on this one), some instant coffee, sugar, vanilla, and water make for a much thriftier version of store-bought coffee liqueur, and one that has more coffee flavor and less of the syrupiness that comes with Kahlua. And when you have this stuff on hand, the cocktail making (and baking) possibilities become infinite. Adding a shot of this stuff to a porter makes for a perfect beer cocktail and we're hatching plans for a batch of boozy coffee ice cream in the very near future.

What Worked: If you're going to watch The Big Lebowski, we'd rather you make that White Russian with this stuff. It'll only make the viewing experience more pleasurable.

What Didn't: Goodbye, Kahlua; we'd rather DIY this one.

Suggested Tweaks: Vanilla is a given, but think about infusing this liqueur with other aromatics like anise or orange rind.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Homemade Pantry to give away.

Reprinted with permission from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila. Copyright © 2012. Published by Clarkson Potter. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.

  • Yield:makes 8 cups


  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee
  • 4 cups cheap vodka
  • 2 vanilla beans


  1. 1.

    Combine the water, sugar, and instant coffee in a large saucepan and bring to a high simmer, but not a boil. Cover and cook for 1 hour, taking care that it continues to simmer without coming to a boil.

  2. 2.

    Let the mixture cool and add the vodka, stirring to combine. Transfer to a bottle or jar, add the vanilla beans, screw on the lid, and keep in a cool, dark place for at least 2 weeks before serving (though it will taste even better as time passes).