The makings of a Cold Fashioned, featuring Allen’s Cold Brew. Photo by Angie Bryan

May has been a rough month for many of us, but one bright spot was the release of the first new style of Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy, aka the Champagne of Maine, in almost a generation: Allen’s Cold Brew Coffee Flavored Brandy.

Intended as an addition to the Allen’s line, not as a replacement for the original product, Allen’s Cold Brew is made using cold brew coffee – coffee made from coffee grounds which have been steeped in cool water for 12 or so hours. The result is a substantially less acidic coffee, so I was excited to see how using cold brew coffee would change the flavor of the original Allen’s.

First I had to get my hands on some of the new product. The 750-milliliter bottle of regular Allen’s is $11.49; 750 millilteres of the cold brew version is normally $14.99 but is on sale for $12.99 during May. Unlike the original, which is sold in plastic bottles, the Cold Brew comes in a glass bottle. I felt fancy before I even opened it.

Bar Guide writer Angie Bryan admires her bottle of Allen’s Cold Brew. by Margaret Menger

Also feeling science-y, I poured a small amount of regular Allen’s into one clear liqueur glass (I told you I was feeling fancy) and an equal amount of Cold Brew into another one. They looked exactly the same – there went that cool photo idea.

Next came the sniff test. The original has an overwhelmingly coffee-like aroma; the cold brew definitely still smells strongly of coffee, but slightly different from the original. I doubt I could tell the difference in a blind smell test, though.

Enough messing around, it was time to taste. As much as I enjoy regular Allen’s, I had never tasted it straight before. Yowza. Perhaps I shouldn’t have conducted this taste test during the morning. Then again, it is technically coffee, right?

The regular one was so strong that it burned. A lot. (Perhaps conducting this experiment immediately after returning from a dental cleaning was not my brightest idea.) It became abundantly clear to me why the most common way to drink regular Allen’s is not straight but instead in a Sombrero, one of many names for Allen’s mixed with milk.

Once my tongue stopped throbbing, I moved on to the Cold Brew. It was much smoother, richer, deeper and velvetier, but still tasted very strongly of coffee. It just didn’t burn like the original (or perhaps I had burned off the top layer of my tongue and could no longer feel anything). Allen’s describes the new style as containing notes of bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, caramel and cherry, but all I picked up was coffee.

A White Russian made with Allen’s Cold Brew Photo by Angie Bryan

Time to make some cocktails. I started with a (wait for it) Cold Fashioned. It pains me greatly that I did not come up with that name before Allen’s, which recommends mixing 2 ounces of bourbon, a half-ounce of Cold Brew and two dashes of orange bitters. I, of course, added some Luxardo cherries because I was not born in a barn.  The coffee flavor overpowered the bourbon, so I’d recommend starting with a quarter-ounce of Cold Brew and then adjusting to taste.

I then moved on to a White Russian: equal parts Cold Brew, heavy cream and vodka. Much better. A few sips in and I was ready to interfere with the U.S. electoral process.

The Allen’s website also suggests using Cold Brew to make an espresso martini (one part Cold Brew and two parts vodka in a martini glass drizzled with chocolate syrup), but I decided to stop before I started texting any exes.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.

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