Fortified Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Photo: Camille Llosa

National Rum Day falls on August 16, and it’s a surefire excuse to indulge in a rum-based cocktail or two. Without a doubt, there will be offerings abounding that stick to the classics: the Cuba Libre, daiquiri, mojito, and more. Here we offer you something that strays from the norm but is still sure to meet the Rum Day qualifications.

A cà phê sữa đá, (or as it is known in the West, a Vietnamese iced coffee) is a classic iced offering from Vietnam. Made with strong black coffee and sweetened condensed milk served over ice, it is the antecedent to the western obsession with blended coffee drinks. Typically it is made with a traditional coffee phin filter, in which coarse coffee grounds are placed; the filter is then placed over the cup and water passed through to brew straight into the drinking vessel. But fear not – if you don’t have a phin filter, simply brewing a good, strong cup of quality coffee will be nearly as good.

To this strong coffee base, aged amber rum is added. Rum and coffee are a natural match. The acidity inherent in coffee is tempered and complemented by the barrel-sweet aged rum. While they dance together on the palate, neither is overshadowed; it is a great harmony of flavours. Both ingredients contain the tastes of age — deep, complex, and mature.

(Makes two cocktails)


2 cups (500 ml) of strong black coffee
2 oz (60 ml) aged amber rum
2 oz (60ml) condensed sweetened milk


Brew the coffee as appropriate and cool to room temperature.
In a highball glass, pour one ounce (30ml) of sweetened condensed milk.
Atop that, pour one cup (250 ml) of cooled coffee and add one ounce (30ml) of rum. Add ice and stir.

Camille Llosa
Camille Llosa is a freelance writer and editor who is food-obsessed. She holds a degree in Print Journalism from Sheridan College and her work focuses on finding the connections between our everyday common experiences and how they can impact our life, wellbeing, perception, and purpose.