Why just settle for a regular cup of joe? Or even a specially whipped up espresso or caffé macchiato when you can indulge in a classic Rüdesheimer kaffee (aka Rüdesheimer coffee).

This German specialty coffee has a special alcoholic kick to it that your neighborhood coffee house simply cannot match.

The beautiful city of Rüdesheim, already long known for its terraced vineyards along one of the most scenic parts of the Rhine River and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, added the specialty coffee in 1957 to its list of historical highlights. Created by a German television host named Hans Karl Adam, the coffee remains popular in coffee houses throughout the city.

Hot, black coffee (regular or decaf) mixed with three cubes of sugar and most commonly Asbach brandy (but sometimes cognac or Armagnac) and then served with thickly whipped cream, vanilla sugar and a splattering of dark chocolate shavings on top—this is a coffee that will keep you up all night and then some. One might compare it to Irish coffee, but of course then one might be missing the point.

For starters, the (usually) caffeinated drink has deep local roots. This is because the traditional Asbach brandy that is most often used in the beverage was created here in Rüdesheim as well, back in 1892 by a merchant and distiller named Hugo Asbach and is now a famous German specialty all on its own. Standardly served in a saucer with a genuine Rüdesheim coffee mug—that is a mug without handles—drinking the coffee is enjoyable entertainment all on its own. Depending on the waiter, of course, the drink is often served with ceremony and lit with a match so that you can watch the sugar dissolved.

Clearly, along with Gluhwein and hot cocoa, Rüdesheim is the perfect beverage to enjoy throughout the winter and holiday season. Or if you prefer, enjoy a Rüdesheim iced coffee (perfect for hot summer months!) or Rüdesheim coffee espresso.

To make sure you enjoy this beverage as authentically as possible, AmaWaterways brings its guests to the Rüdesheimer Schloss, a lively spot where you can enjoy both the iconic drink and energetic atmosphere.

A swig of Rüdesheimer coffee is truly a treat for wine-lovers and coffee-holics alike! Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

1 ⅓ oz. Asbach Uralt (a dry, aged brandy such as Cognac, Armagnac, Brandy de Jerez, or any other quality German or California grape brandy will do)
3 sugar cubes
Brewed coffee
Decoration: whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles

Preparation

Put three sugar cubes in a coffee cup. Add 1 ⅓ ounces (a double shot in the U.S. may be 2 fluid ounces or more) well-heated Asbach Uralt and light with a long match.

Stir with a long-stemmed spoon so that the sugar dissolves well and allow it to burn for about 1 minute. Top off to just about an inch below the edge of the cup with hot coffee. Put a dollop of whipped cream, sweetened with vanilla sugar, on top and add dark chocolate sprinkles.

Tip: Heat the brandy in a microwave-safe container for 1 minute at 600 watts or over hot water.

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