Lac Coeur Coffee Liqueur by Loon Liquor

James Norton / Heavy Table

Kahlua has given coffee liqueur a bad name. You can’t really blame the brand for its massive and lucrative success. It’s a staple of college bars everywhere, and it does in fact make a fine White Russian — but it’s syrupy and lacks the depth and complexity that makes coffee a miraculous gift from heaven.

There’s no reason a coffee liqueur can’t capture some of coffee’s bewitching depth while still offering enough sweetness to play a crucial supporting role in dessertlike cocktails. And that balance between complexity and a honeylike sweetness makes Lac Coeur by Loon Liquor ($20 for 375 milliliters) pleasant enough to sip by itself as a digestif.

The fact that Lac Coeur is made with Peace Coffee’s Yeti Cold Press goes a long way toward explaining its quality. The depth of the coffee is fully expressed rather than being squashed by sugar.

If you’re planning to build a White Russian around Lac Coeur, prepare to experiment — you may miss Kahlua’s sugar in this context. That said, this is a marvelously tasteful product with a local provenance, and a lot of potential for mixing … or for drinking straight out of a glass after dinner.

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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