How To Make An Italian Mafia Red Eye Coffee Drink

There’s a scene in the classic Hollywood movie Good Fellas, where Tommy DeVito (played by actor Joe Pesci) asks for a cup of coffee before he murders one of his mafia colleagues (does the mafia even call them colleagues?).

Once he does ‘the hit’, he says he wants the coffee to go.

It makes you wonder, what kind of coffee does the Italian mafia drink? If Hollywood movies are to be believed, it’s espresso – and make it a double, mugsy.

All joking aside (and seriously, Mafia people – we are just kidding!), have you ever thought about combining the taste of rich, silky espresso with the anise flavor-explosion that is Sambuca?

It’s a popular duo – and makes the Italian Mafia Red Eye espresso recipe definitely worth checking out. It’s like an offer you can’t refuse!

Italian Mafia Red Eye Espresso

Have you ever wonder, what kind of coffee does the Italian mafia drink? If Hollywood movies are to be believed, it's espresso! This recipe combines the taste of rich, silky espresso with the anise flavor-explosion that is Sambuca. It's definitely worth checking out!

Course Drinks
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Italian Mafia Red Eye Espresso recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 484 kcal


  • 1 1/2 tbsp chocolate syrup or crème de cacao liqueur
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Sambuca
  • 2 shots espresso
  • Whipped cream
  • 1 maraschino cherry


  1. Pour the chocolate syrup or crème de cacao into your mug

  2. Pour the Sambuca into your mug

  3. Make the double espresso shot and add it to the mix

  4. Top your drink with a dollop or two of whipped cream

  5. Gently place the cherry on top of the whipped cream

Recipe Notes

Omit the Sambuca if you prefer a non-alcoholic drink

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How to Make an Italian Mafia Red Eye Espresso

A coffee drink with alcohol might be something that gives you pause about drinking early in the day, but, let’s be real here.

For those in Cosa Nostra (what the Mafia calls those ‘in the family'), that’s the least of your worries.

And besides, this is a drink that is going to perk you up. It’s good anytime of the day or night!

Step #1. Get Syrupy (or Crème-y)

Decide on whether to go alcoholic or non-alcoholic for the chocolate flavor of your drink, and pour either the chocolate syrup or crème de cacao into your mug.

PRO TIP - The boozy version brings a depth of flavor that the chocolate syrup version does not.

Step #2. It’s Sambuca Time!

Sambuca is an interesting alcoholic beverage. And it is often enjoyed with coffee.

In fact, a basic combination of the two is called caffe corretto (although you can use other alcohol to make it as well, such as grappa).

There is clearly something magical about the combination of the anise flavor found in Sambuca, and the taste of coffee.

Pour the Sambuca into your mug.

Step #3. Espresso Yourself

As a member of the coffee tribe, you likely have a great espresso machine in your kitchen… if not, you can make espresso using a moka pot.

Want to learn more? Check this out.

Or, there are other ways to make espresso without an espresso machine. You can find them here.

Add the double espresso shot.

Step #4. Whip It Out

Whipped cream adds texture and taste to this drink.

And let’s face it, everyone who makes whipped cream looks forward to the taste tests before deciding it’s perfectly whipped.

While you can purchase whipped cream in a can at the grocery store, homemade is best.

Not sure how to make whipped cream? It’s simple. Check out how here.

Top your drink with a dollop or two of whipped cream.

Step #5. Drop the Cherry

While you can buy maraschino cherries in a grocery store, they are much better if you make them yourself.

MUCH better.

While it takes a bit of effort, it is absolutely worth it to do. Learn how to make them here.

Gently place the cherry on top of the whipped cream.

PRO TIP - Drizzle some of the crème de cacao liqueur across the top of the whipped cream too.

Step #6. Go All Mafia On It

Sit back, put on a classic mafia flick like Good Fellas, Scarface, or The Godfather, and enjoy!  

A Little Bit On Sambuca

Sambuca is a strong, anise-flavored liqueur that has been given a host of diverse uses over the years. It can play a subtle yet important support role in chilled cold drinks like this one, and can just as easily take front and center as a flaming culinary display.

It’s one of those rare drinks that is confidently able to please any drinker. 

It’s ability to remain calmly and quietly in the background has made it the perfect support player in the numerous cocktail beverages that it has been incorporated into over time. 

Sambuca (White) Liquor Quik Essence
A teeny bottle with lots of flavor

While Sambuca’s history as both a stand-alone drink that can hold up on its own merits as well as part of many popular cocktails is well-known, though, there’s another piece of Sambuca history that fits in very well here. This classic Italian beverage has also had a bit of a fling with coffee for a long time, too.

And we’re not just talking about mixing it with espresso. Even when Sambuca is served on its own, it is ceremoniously topped with at least three floating coffee beans representing happiness, health, and prosperity. Sometimes even more beans are added, with as many as seven representing the legendary Seven Hills of Rome.

A great flourish to all of this is the fact that when the drink is served “flaming hot” the heat even served to lightly roast the beans!

Caffè Corretto

A final note for those of you who have heard the term “caffè corretto” before and are wondering how it fits into the picture.

Also known as espresso corretto or “corrected coffee,” the idea behind this famous combo is “fixing” your coffee with a shot of Sambuca, grappa, brandy, or whatever other spirit-filled drink you add to your java.

So, while it isn’t exclusively for Sambuca, the next time you’re served coffee and spirits, you can rest assured that the drink has been “corrected” as much as possible... or at least that’s how the Italians would put it. 

Enjoy Your Italian Mafia Red Eye Espresso!

Think you’ve got what it takes to make an Italian mafia red eye espresso?

Maybe it’s time to throw a Mafia movie-inspired get-together and serve the red eye.

Let us know in the comments sections if you are going to make this – and when you do, what you think about it.

And if you know someone who would like this Sambuca espresso beverage, please share!

In the mood to try more unique recipes? Check these delicious Tropical Mocha and Flaming Spanish coffee.

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