Viennese coffee: Kaffee Maria Theresia


I don’t know where you are, but where I am, we are having our second “Arctic” cold spell.  This seems like a good time to follow up the Hot Toddy post with some nice coffee cocktails. Where better to start off than Vienna?  I’ve been lucky enough to spend time in Vienna and I highly recommend it as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.  But even more, it is home to some of the best coffeehouses and cafes in the world.  Viennese coffee is exquisite and the cakes, strudels and pastries are a league of their own.  The Viennese know how to brew a cup of coffee, and most coffeehouses will serve you a Kaffee Maria Theresia, which is sweetened coffee with orange liquor and whipped cream.

The drink is named for THE Maria Theresia of the Hapsburg empire.  She was quite a formidable woman.  She was the only female ruler of the Habsburg empire and she was the last ruler of the House of Habsburg. The empire included Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, and parts of Italy.  She ruled the Habsburg empire for 40 years and during that time gave birth to 22 children (16 survived childhood), while also fighting 2 wars.  She was a kick-ass woman and the drink named for her honors her well.

So how do you make this coffee cocktail?  You need the following: orange liqueur, superfine sugar, coffee, whipping cream and orange zest for garnish.  Let’s talk about some of these ingredients.

For this drink you can use any type of orange liquor.  Cointreau and Triple Sec add a clean orange flavor.  I used Grand Marnier because the cognac base adds a nice note to the drink.


Superfine sugar dissolves nicely, but you can use regular cane sugar in a pinch, just stir a little longer.


Next, you will need to whip your cream ahead of time.  Organic grassfed is nice if you can get it, but more importantly, don’t use a can.  You can lightly sweeten it or not, depending on your preference.


Okay, let’s make the drink!

Kaffee Maria Theresia (slightly adapted from Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague by Rick Rodgers)

First warm your cup with boiling water.  While skipping this step isn’t the end of the world, it will insure your coffee stays nice and hot.


Next, pour out the water, and pour 3 tablespoons of orange liquor in your cup, and stir in 1 teaspoon of sugar.


When the sugar is dissolved, add 1 cup of coffee.


Next, add a dollop of whipped cream.


Last but not least, zest some orange.


Garnish, and enjoy.


A little decadent, but just the thing to brighten a cold day.  And perfect for breakfast, afternoon coffee break or after dinner.





I love margaritas.  I especially love margaritas that aren’t full of all the artificial crap you find in margarita mix.  A classic margarita is both delicious and about 200 calories, which is about the same calorie count as you get when you add tequila to a pre-mixed bottle of margarita mix.

Classic margaritas are based on the 1:1:1 ratio which is the same ratio used in a Side Car and a few other classic cocktails.  It’s a simple one part tequila, one part orange liquor, and one part lime juice.  Now your orange liquor can be triple sec, which is relatively cheap.  My worry about cheap triple sec is that it is likely full of the crap we are trying to avoid in margarita mix, namely artificial flavors.  If you can afford Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Gran Gala or other expensive orange liquors, your margarita will definitely benefit.  However, I’ll be the first to tell you, even with plain old triple sec, these margaritas knock the pre-mixed ones out of the park.  So, let’s get started.

We are going to use a 1.5 oz to 1.5 oz to 1.5 oz measurement today.  (1.5 ounces happen to be the amount of a “jigger”, who knew?).  This makes a nice sized margarita, with 3 ounces of alcohol in it.

Good margaritas really require a bunch of limes and a good lime juicer.


In general, you will need one and a half limes to get 1.5 ounces of juice, but that depends on the limes.  You will also need a little left over for garnish and salting the rim.


To get the perfect salt rim, use kosher salt spread on a plate.  Rub the rim of the glass with a wedge of lime and then dip into the salt.  And voila!  A beautiful salted rim!


Fill your glass with ice.  Add your lime juice, triple sec and tequila to your shaker with some ice.  Shake until the outside of the shaker is frosty, and strain into your prepared cup.  The key to margaritas, as it is with all drinks, is to tweak the recipe to your tastes.  If you are used to pre-mixed margaritas, I recommend upping the triple sec to make this a little sweeter.  If you like them tarter, more lime juice can be added.  And if, you like a stronger margarita, use more tequila.

If you do have a bottle of Grand Marnier sitting around but don’t want to use it up in margaritas, here is a secret to the best tasting margaritas I have made.  I often use relatively cheap tequila, regular old triple sec, fresh lime juice, mix as usual, pour over my rocks, and then pour a “float” of Grand marnier on the top.


A float is a fancy word for gently pouring a liquor on the top of a drink so that it “floats” on top.  The best way can be to pour it slowly over an upside down spoon held over the drink.   Grand marnier floats causes the margarita transcend its relatively lower end ingredients to become way more than the sum of the parts.