Brisket in coffee bourbon sauce

Brisket in Coffee Bourbon Sauce Recipe

Brisket in Coffee Bourbon Sauce

Brisket in coffee bourbon sauce

Another winner (scroll down for my original brisket).

My brisket Bechor is my famous Brisket in Sweet and Sour Sauce. A classic!  You will get no end of fabulous Seder Dishes ideas in my big Seder Menu File

Another brisket of mine with wacky ingredients that comes out to die for! Just ask all the guests that were at my Seder Demo last night: They were falling like flies! So sorry about indulging in some un-ladylike swagger!

This Star was Just Born!

I was tinkering with coffee, molasses and bourbon, and bingo, I got this beauty!

This is a frequent combo in barbecues and short ribs, so I wanted to explore it as a possible base for my  brisket sauce. I know it sounds like it would put some more hair on the chests of lumberjacks; but lo and behold, the results were fork-tender meat, and a wonderfully  dark, balanced and unctuous sauce, much  more  toned down than the seemingly reckless sum of its parts.

Brisket: First Cut and Second Cut Wars

Please don’t believe anyone who will tell you first-cut brisket is not as moist and tender as its second-cut fat an unappealing slab of a counterpart: they will never say that again after they taste this!  Just make certain you are not getting some obscure slab of dry stringy meat masquerading (and priced) as first-cut brisket.

To Adapt this Brisket in Coffee Bourbon Sauce for Passover

I simply substitute honey for the molasses, and brandy for the bourbon, and it works just as gloriously. Go for it!

No problem freezing the brisket

Here’s how I like to do it: Slice the brisket. Place the slices side by side vertically in a pan, tightly packed together like a deck of cards, just as if you were serving it now, and pour your gravy over it. cover the pan air-tight, and freeze. To reheat: place the frozen pan at 250 degrees for about 1 hour, or a little longer, until heated through. Or: leave the pan out to thaw a few hours, then reheat at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes, or a little longer, until heated through.


  • 2 large onions, sliced very thin
  • 1 brisket. 6 to 7 pounds, first cut. Rinsed and patted thoroughly dry
  • 2 cups strong coffee, decaf OK
  • 1/3 cup bourbon  (Passover: brandy)
  • 1/3 cup molasses  (Passover: honey)
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scatter the onions in a pan just large enough to fit the meat. Place the brisket on top of the onions. Combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl, and pour the mixture evenly over the meat. Cover tightly with foil, and bake 2 hours. Turn the brisket over, and bake uncovered 1 more hour. Transfer the brisket to a cutting board and wait about 10 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile strain the cooking liquids into a small sauce pan, pressing hard on the solids (and discarding them), and reduce on a high flame to about 2 ½ cups. Let the brisket cool slightly. Slice thin against the grain. In places where the brisket is very long, cut across first before slicing. Pour the gravy on top. Makes a dozen to sixteen ample servings.

20 replies
  1. Marie J
    Marie J says:

    This looks super yummy. Also, a great way to use up that can of instant coffee that always gets left behind when the parents visit!

  2. Frances Hellen
    Frances Hellen says:

    Sounds wonderful and going to try it.
    Does 1 tablespoon of pepper mean whole peppercorns or is it 1 Tblp ground pepper? ( that sounds like a lot).
    Also I haven’t the faintest idea if I have 1st cut or not. It is definitely not double ie no fat as a filling. There is a pointed tip, flat end .
    Since it was expensive, I don’t want shoe leather from cooking it too long and losing all the juices.
    What do you suggest?

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Frances I suggest first cut, quite unequivocally. You’ll see it is very clear in the recipe and the intro. The amount of pepper given is accurate, and not excessive.

  3. Lillian
    Lillian says:

    I am concerned with the cooking times for this recipe. Most recipes call for 200-250 degree oven and long slow cooking to get a tender brisket. this recipe calls for a 350 degree oven and a 3 hour cooking time. Please help me and clarify. I am ready to cook now for this Seder.
    The recipe sounds wonderful! Different and delicious!
    Thanks, Lillian

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Lillian the recipe is tried and true. First cut brisket. All good to go. My brisket recipes have been included in The NYT cookbooks, The Book of Brisket, and several other publications:-)))

  4. Aviva
    Aviva says:

    “have been included in several – non-Jewish- publications, including a prestigious recent cookbook: The highest form of praise, right?”

    You got that right! I do too much reading of blogs in which go in the other direction.

    I see that I mistakenly posted my question about the mango chutney on the page in which your brisket in coffee brandy is featured rather than the sweet and sour one! I assume that the chutney is equally foreign to that recipe as well….

    My “bible” has been the Langstrasse cookbook, which features recipes which, due to short lists of ingredients and simple cooking directions is helpful for a person such as myself with a faltering memory. But I have tried to buy a new Jewish Cookbook every few years so as you can guess I have quite a collection (including a second Langstrasse since the first well used, stained and with broken spine was losing it’s pages). My most recent acquisition is A Fistful of Lentils which is aiding me in my attempt to move beyond my comfort zone and into Sephardic culinary territory.

    Many thanks for your swift reply. I had little hope in that dept. considering that the last post on this page had been made in April, so it was a surprise and a treat! I will speak with my now aged mother and ask where the inspiration for the mango chutney came from!! Come to think of it, I think there was sour salt on the list also…..Another of her personal touches no doubt.

    Happy New Year from my family to yours. I will be looking to add one of your opuses to my collection soon!

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Aviva it is true get very few comments on my brisket, both recipes: They are really tried and true.
      Since you have in mind to simplify your life in the kitchen, let me ask you this: do you have my latest cookbook? By all accounts, it’s fabulous! xoxoxo

  5. Aviva
    Aviva says:

    P.S. I too once had a dry brisket fiasco, and I believe it was the fault of the meat as well. I’d never had a less than stunning result in umpteen previous presentations of this dish, but at first I faulted myself. I realised later that the cut of meat was different (2nd cut…).

    Just wanted to say what an honor it is to have the opportunity to thank you personally for such an incredible event (it hardly does it justice to refer to it as a recipe!). I’d previously been afraid of working with red meat (I was a chicken maven!)but with such a success with brisket I was able to go on to try other cuts of meat as well. Thanks a million and L’Shana Tovah!

  6. Aviva
    Aviva says:

    I would be soooo grateful for an answer, Thanks to this/your incredible recipe for brisket I am now famous within the family and receive requests for it at every holiday. In order that familiarity does not breed and version of contempt I have to hold back and serve it only once per year.
    My question is this: My mother cut this recipe out of a newspaper and sent it to me, and I cannot find it. Thankfully after an hour searching the internet I found this site. However I could have sworn the recipe included hot mango chutney (how much I don’t remember), which, obviously, does not appear here in the list of ingredients. Is this an optional ingredient that was left off the list of ingredients this time? Or was it my mother’s idea altogether?

    A Grateful Aviva from Ottawa

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Aviva, first of all if you made it more than once a year, I’ll bet you’ll get of hugs and kisses for it. And, sorry to say: The chutney is totally foreign to this recipe!

  7. PJS
    PJS says:

    Oy!!!! I prepared this for Seder night, and it was a disaster……. The meat was dry, tough and hard, and had none of the flavour of the sauce. What went wrong?????? It had to keep from the beginning of chag until the meal. Could the meat have overcooked (but then it would have been too soft??) Advice please? Very emabarrassing (my wife’s family were the guests).

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Oy is right! Please believe me: My recipe is 100% tried and true, and has been included in several major cookbooks. I can tell you this now the disaster has been averted at my table as well, just this once out of countless times I have made it. Thursday, the day before I wanted to serve it, I saw the cooked brisket and sensed it didnt feel right, I took a bite and … it was a shoe sole. I called the butcher and told him since my recipe has NEVER let me down, I am blaming the piece of meat for my fiasco, and he said yes, it was not first choice, he should have told me the cut he gave me was tougher and needed much longer cooking. So 3 hours baking turned into 5 hours, and guess what? That did it! It was nice and tender. Still I must tell you I was not happy! I paid very good money for 1st cut brisket, I want 1st cut brisket!

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      OMG Ricki I apologogize: you are absolutely right, the recipe includes vinegar. Any vinegar. I was doing half A dozen things at a time when you called, and I couldn’t thing straight! So sorry about that! How is your lovely daughter, whose shower I gave a cooking demo for? Have a great holiday!

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