The velvet hammer falls into the creamy mixed drink category alongside popular recipes like the white Russian and mudslide. It's a mix of orange and coffee liqueurs, which is unusual but it works rather well.
This is a drink that's been around for some time, though it no longer has the notoriety of many of its counterparts. It likely came out of the 1970s and 80's when creamy concoctions were all the rage. It's easy to remember because the three ingredients are poured in equal amounts and there's really no mixing required.
If you're looking for a simple drink that's just a little out of the ordinary, this retro recipe is a good choice.
Gently top with half and half or cream.
Over the years, the velvet hammer has seen a few adaptations. While the Cointreau and cream have remained constants, some recipes are specific about the coffee liqueur or replace it entirely.
Kahlua may be the best-known coffee liqueur, but the velvet hammer is typically made with Tia Maria. Both have a rum base and use coffee beans and vanilla for flavor, so they are very similar. It's a matter of personal taste and you can certainly make this drink with any other coffee liqueur.
At times, a chocolate liqueur is substituted for the coffee option. The pairing of chocolate and orange is just as delicious and we find it on occasion in cocktails like the chocolate and orange martini. Most often, crème de cacao is preferred over the creamier chocolate liqueurs.
Blend It Up
While the velvet hammer is quite tasty on the rocks, it's also a worthy mix for the blender. It creates a boozy milkshake with a very intriguing flavor and some people even like to add a shot of brandy.
There are two ways to approach this one. The first is to simply pour the three ingredients into a blender with about a cup of ice. The other, much creamier, option is to skip the cream and add a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream instead. Use more ice cream if you like a thicker shake and less for a thinner consistency.
How Strong Is the Velvet Hammer?
The velvet hammer seems like an innocent drink because it's made of sweet liqueurs, which tend to have a lower alcohol content. However, Cointreau is actually a 40 percent alcohol by volume (80 proof) liqueur, making it as strong as most rums, vodkas, and whiskies. Because of that, the drink may not be as light as you think.
On average, your velvet hammer should weigh in around 18 percent ABV (36 proof). It's not the strongest drink, but it's not the weakest, either. The sweet, creamy taste can also mask the alcohol, so it's best to take it easy with this one.