Chris Hannah Makes Us a Pousse Café

A man behind a bar holding a cocktail.

Unlike most cocktails, a Pousse Café is less about precision and more about aesthetics. The name, which is French, means "coffee pusher," as the drink is intended to be consumed at the end of a meal, alongside coffee. A proper Pousse Café can contain anywhere between three and seven layers of colorful liqueurs and liquors, stacked according to weight and appearance. This category of cocktail boasts significant room for experimentation, but Chris Hannah of Arnaud's in New Orleans broke down the basics.

All photos by Josh Brasted

A person pouring red liqueur into a glass.

A Pousse Café can contain any range of colorful liqueurs. But whatever liqueurs you select, you'll want to begin by pouring your heaviest liqueur first. The weights can be determined by finding the ABV on the bottle. The lower the percentage, the heavier the liqueur. All photos by Josh Brasted.

A person pouring creme de menthe over the back of a spoon and into a cocktail glass.

Continue by pouring the next heaviest liqueur, and so on, with the lightest on top. After you've poured the first layer of liqueur, it's helpful to pour the subsequent liqueurs over the back of a spoon to prevent any unwanted mixing of colors.

A man pouring blue liqueur into a cocktail glass.

The liqueur with the highest ABV (and lightest weight) will, of course, top off the Pousse Café, which should now be a stunning column of colors.

A layered red, white and blue cocktail.

The Pousse Café offers a stunning means of ending a meal. Sip it alongside coffee as an authentic New Orleanian would. But in the name of all things sacred, do not stir it before you do so.

A man holding a layered cocktail.

Hannah is highly familiar with all New Orleans drinking traditions — the Pousse Café being a signature example.