An Expert Explains Why You Should Always Use Concentrated Cold Brew In Cocktails

With an espresso martini being all the rage again, there is an increased focus on adding coffee to cocktails. But just as there is a wide range of spirits to choose from when crafting a cocktail, there's a plethora of coffee preparations. From drip to pour-over to espresso to iced coffee, finding java that is right for the beverage at hand takes serious consideration. To help make the right decision, Tasting Table spoke with Jessie Dolores, Manager at Coffee + Cocktails at Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC, to find out her approach to adding it to mixed drinks.

"Cold brew concentrate works better than diluted since most espresso cocktails are shaken," Dolores explained. "Dilution from the cold brew plus dilution from the shaking makes for an unbalanced cocktail. Here at Coffee + Cocktails we use the Toddy system to make cold brew with a 5-pound bag of beans to 14 quarts of water ratio that steeps for 16 hrs."

When it comes to coffee-based cocktails, Coffee + Cocktails isn't messing around. The eatery boasts an impressive espresso martini menu with eight libations that include, yes, coffee, but also unusual ingredients, like peanut butter, mezcal, basil, and Tabasco hot sauce.

Make your own cold brew at home

If you're unfamiliar with Toddy that's no surprise as it is mainly used in restaurants. This commercial cold brew system allows for large batch, cold water extraction of coffee in an easy-to-use drum that doubles as a dispenser for the extract it yields. Bold cold brew coffee itself is markedly different from the hot brewed version as the process leeches out more caffeine while leaving behind many of the acidic and bitter compounds in the coffee some find off-putting. 

Thankfully, you don't need a Toddy system for cold brewing at home since it's a simple process. Start by grinding your beans to a coarse size for the best extraction. Depending on the size of your coffee grinder, you may have to work in batches. Add the beans to a large vessel, such as a pitcher, and pour in water in a ratio of one-quarter cup of coffee to one cup of water. Stir the mixture and seal before letting it steep overnight. The next day, pour the mixture through a coffee filter — patience is key here — into a clean vessel. 

Now you have cold brew concentrate that you can cut with water for the absolute easiest way to make iced coffee or you can add it to a cocktail shaker for something a bit stronger.