The key to Kurt Bragunier's hot coffee cocktail at Annabel Lee Tavern is local fresh-roasted coffee from Highlandtown's High Grounds Coffee, around the corner from the bar. "I don't know about you," Bragunier says, "but I love that burnt-coffee smell" that's emitted during bean-roasting. All the richness of the High Grounds coffee comes across in the Isadore ($9.50); he uses a miniature French press to make each drink, so that each customer receives the best coffee possible. "This is always guaranteed fresh," he says. After about a two-minute brew, Bragunier starts mixing up equal parts Fireball Whisky and Baileys Irish Cream in a mug. He goes very light on the vanilla extract-"it's very powerful," he cautions-then pours the High Grounds brew on top and stirs. Named after (of course) a Poe poem, the Isadore arrives piping hot, capped off by a swirl of whipped cream. The cinnamon flavor from the Fireball is pronounced in the drink's faintly spicy bite, and the Baileys makes it almost buttery while the vanilla adds smoothness. But undoubtedly, the robust coffee flavor is the best part of the barely sweet Isadore. It will warm up a cold patron in minutes.
1 part cinnamon whiskey
1 part Irish cream
Dash of vanilla extract
Whipped cream (optional)
Combine whiskey and Irish cream, add vanilla, stir. Pour coffee over ingredients, stir. Top with whipped cream.