How To Best Use Cold Brew Coffee In A Cocktail, According To An Expert

In retrospect, the collision of the coffee and cocktail worlds should have been something we all saw coming. The rise of premium coffee has never really abated, and when the craft cocktail revival came on the scene and took off in the 2010s, it was only a matter of time before two of the biggest beverage trends in the U.S. merged. The past few years have first seen the resurgence of the espresso martini, but espresso is just one small part of the world of coffee, and the ubiquitous and delicious cold brew seems just as poised to take over the cocktail world. So, Tasting Table spoke with Jessie Dolores, the manager at Coffee + Cocktails at Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC, to get her expert opinion on how to make a great cocktail using cold brew coffee.

The most important advice Dolores had for us was about the unusual strength of coffee. She said, "Generally, coffee is an overpowering flavor, so you have to be careful. You can use cold brew with cocktails that have strong bases, feature spiced flavors or subtle citrus notes." But, despite cold brew's strong flavor, don't be tempted to use anything other than black coffee. Dolores explains, "I like to have control in what flavors we put in coffee and how much of it. Flavored cold brews are often too sweet to put into cocktails without losing the integrity of the drink itself, so it's typically better to add in your own flavoring."

Cold brew coffee can pair with a number of different spirits

As for what you should be putting in your cold brew cocktail besides black coffee, Dolores had a few suggestions. She told us, "Traditionally, vodka is the favorite but tequila is also a good choice and has been getting some notoriety in coffee/espresso cocktails of late." If you do want to experiment with tequila cold brew cocktails over vodka, she recommends using more aged varietals. She explained, "Due to the sweetness that agave brings the coffee, Reposado is the best tequila for coffee from what I've seen, made, and tasted. The barrel aging really helps bring out the more unique notes from coffee that are normally found in specialty roasters."

There are also a number of tried-and-true coffee cocktails out there that would be a great place to get started mixing with cold brew. Some, like a white Russian, will feel like natural complements to the flavor of cold brew, while others, like the smoky mezcal coffee cocktail, will surprise you with how well they complement each other. Of course, you could always try different flavors with your cold brew in the simplest way first: by adding some booze straight up to your iced coffee. There is a whole world of flavors out there for your cold brew cocktail — in fact, it may even become your new favorite mixer.