educational resources | apr. 22, 2021

Cold Brew Coffee — Your New Best Cocktail Ingredient

There are many ways to utilize different types of coffee in making fine and sophisticated cocktails. The coffee industry has undergone a similar evolution/​revolution as mixology, bringing the luxury of carefully processed and sourced coffee beans to the masses. Single origin espresso, pour-over, aeropress coffee — all those became not only star beverages to consume on their own, but also intriguing components of craft cocktails. There is one type of coffee brew that is specifically very well suited to feature in mixed drinks: The Cold Brew.

Cold Brew is easy and very commonplace.

A large amount of coffee is immersed in a comparatively small amount of cold water for several hours, yielding a rich and bold coffee concentrate. In bartender parlance, it is like an infusion, but it is essential to remove the coffee grounds from the liquid to prevent over-extraction. A good recipe is something like 450 grams of coarse ground coffee to 2.25L of filtered water (1:5 ratio). Another good trick is just to do one gallon of water for every pound of coffee. 

What coffee beans make the best cold brew for using in cocktails?

A typical espresso blend can work ok if you’re planning to add milk or cream to the finished product. You ultimately will need to tamper down potential bitterness. Something roasted lighter is usually better (I prefer medium or light-medium roast).


In terms of origins, the heavy body & fruity flavors of natural or honey-processed coffees tend to work better with cold coffee brewing (processing information can usually be found on the coffee bag, or ask the barista in a cafe). For example, the deep fruity sweetness of an Ethiopian natural or the heavy chocolate flavors of a Brazil pulped-natural are right on the money in a cold brew. On the other hand, the more delicate, refined acidity of washed Central American coffees can show more potential if you are making a drink with more citrus components. 


When you’re ready to brew, put coarsely ground coffee in a tied filter or a mesh bag and let it sit in the cold water — I prefer room temperature — for 12 – 20 hours. There are many methods and devices designed specifically for this purpose, but you can improvise with a standard fluted” coffee filter, a clean bandana, or a piece of cheesecloth! You can also steep ground coffee in water without a bag or filter, and strain it through fine mesh and/​or cheesecloth later.


12 hours will give you a drinkable product over ice, 20 will be more like a concentrate which you would dilute with water because of its strength. Anything over 20 hours can be sludgy and unnecessary – you’re not going to extract delicious coffee flavor, just more bitter qualities. More about making proper cold brew could be found in this video on our Academia Patron YouTube channel.


Cold brew is great for cocktails because it’s easy to make, versatile in many applications, and long-lasting in the fridge (at least a couple weeks). You may be surprised to discover how many unusual flavor combinations you will find when you start experimenting with cold brew. Tonic, cucumber, berries, orange, beet root, apple, ginger, coconut, just to name a few. 

What spirit is best to mix with cold brew?

There is no hard-and-fast answer to this question, as cold brew can vary widely depending on the origin, processing and strength. You might experiment in order to find the right brew for the right spirits. But from the universal approach, coffee (including cold brew) and tequila are an uncanny match of flavors. Variances of coffee origins, methods of production and types of roast produce a diverse spectrum of flavors: floral, fruity, green, spiced, nutty or sweet. Similarly, tequila exhibits hundreds of different aromas and flavors, from the lighter, flowery, herbal and green notes of unaged marques to the robust, spicy, fruity, desert-like flavors of longer-aged expressions like Reposado, Añejo and Extra-Añejo. Because the coffee flavor wheel actually mirrors the tequila flavor wheel, there is no better type of spirit to pair with coffee. From adding tequila to a pour over to crafting cold brew tequila highballs, there are infinite opportunities for tequila and coffee to perfectly complement each other.


Here are a couple of striking tequila and cold brew cocktails that will definitely change your perception of this beguiling partnership:

Author: Egor Polonskiy

A Coffee Cucumber Tonic in a tall glass. It's garnished with cucumber and has coffee beans and a mixer in the foreground.

The CCT (Coffee, Cucumber, Tonic)

  • 3 Slices of English cucumber muddled
  • 1.5 oz Patrón Silver
  • 1.5 oz Cold brew coffee
  • 1 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
  • .5 oz Lemon Juice
  • 3 oz Fever Tree Citrus Tonic

Method: Shake

Glass: Highball

Garnish: Cucumber ribbon & expressed lemon peel

Preferred coffee & preparation: Light body with mild acidity and citrus notes; cold brew method


About the cocktail: Coffee is excellent with tonic water. This is an unusual combination that underlines nuances of both your chosen cold brewed coffee and the botanicals in tonic. Addition of cucumber and passion fruit bring freshness and crispness to the cocktail.

Coffee Paloma in a tall glass, garnished with lime. A bottle of Patrón Silver sits in the background.

Café Paloma

  • 1.5 oz Patrón Reposado
  • .5 Agave Syrup
  • .5 oz Lime Juice
  • .75 oz Cold brew coffee
  • 3 oz Fever Tree Grapefruit Soda

Method: Shake with ice, top with grapefruit soda

Glass: Highball

Garnish: Hibiscus salt and lime wheel

Preferred coffee & preparation: Light body with mild acidity and citrus notes; cold brew method


About the cocktail: Classic Paloma re-imagined with the addition of cold brew coffee. This sparkling uplifting cocktail opens a new dimension to coffee flavors- slightly bitter, salty, sweet and citrusy at the same time.

Coco Canella with a paper straw and crushed ice in the foreground

Coco Canella

  • 1.5 oz Patrón Extra Añejo
  • .5 oz Patrón Citrónge Orange
  • .75 oz Cold brew coffee
  • .75 oz Coconut syrup
  • .25 oz Canella Syrup
  • .75 oz Lime juice

Method: Shake with ice, strain over fresh crushed ice

Glass: Double rocks or tiki glass

Garnish: Lime wheel

Preferred coffee & preparation: Light body with mild acidity and citrus notes; cold brew method


About the cocktail: Canela is Mexican cinnamon. This is essentially a coffee’ed variation of the famous tropical classic Mai Tai. But instead of typical almond syrup we used coconut and canella to pair with rich and barrel-forward flavors of extra aged tequila.

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