Cold brew coffee—bottled, nitro on tap or built to order—is America's hottest way to chill out. Unlike iced coffee, which is simply hot brewed coffee or espresso poured over ice, cold brew is made by steeping coffee grinds in room temperature to cold water for half a day or longer. Though a staple at third wave coffee shops for a couple of years now, the drink hit critical mass when Starbucks launched its own brew this past spring. Lauded for a flavorful, smooth and less acidic profile, it was only a matter of time before bartenders decided to get creative with the brew in place of standard coffee. Below, 22 awesome cold brew coffee-spiked libations, from a White Russian-inspired intoxicant to the perfect brunch potion.
Location: 130 Arizona Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA
Bartender: Kysha Cyrus
Cocktail: Rise ‘N’ Shine ($8) with cold brew coffee, Troy & Sons Moonshine, Amaro Averna and vanilla syrup.
"We love a good, or bad, pun at Ration & Dram, and adding coffee into the mix seemed like a natural fit—the coffee being the 'Rise' and the moonshine being the 'Shine’!" explains drink creator Kysha Cyrus. This cocktail drinks bold "with a subtle sweetness and robust flavor from the nitro coffee."
Location: 519 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Michael Pomerantz
Cocktail: Nitro Brut ($11) with Grand Marnier, simple syrup, nitro cold brew coffee and a Champagne topper.
Drinking coffee has never been this elegant. While Grand Marnier brings out the subtle citrus and cocoa from the nitro coffee, the Champagne brightens it up.
Location: 730 W Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Harrison Ginsberg
Cocktail: Marooned On Coffee Island ($12) with Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Gold Rum, Mount Gay Black Barrel, cold brew coffee, salt-roasted plantain, PX sherry, Bitterns' Xocolatl Mole Bitters, cinnamon and fresh whipped cream.
Barman Harrison Ginsberg wanted to create a less-fruity banana cocktail, so he went with the plaintain for its savory notes. When roasted with salt it not only complements the two rums, but enhances the cold brew coffee. "A little float of fresh cream on top [gives] it an Irish coffee feel, while [it's] still ... a modern cold coffee cocktail," says Ginsberg.
Location: 1566 North Milwaukee, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Johnathan Jones
Cocktail: Of Quarters & Halves ($12) cocktail on nitro tap: HalfWit cold brew, amaro, Rittenhouse Rye, cacao and Bittermans' New Orleans Coffee Bitters.
This cocktail, inspired by the famous Irish coffee from San Francisco institution the Buena Vista Cafe, uses coffee and rye as a balanced base for the amaro and cacao. Plus, serving it from a nitro tap mimics the silkiness of cream.
Location: 435 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Diane Corcoran
Cocktail: The "Cacchen" Some Rays ($13) with reposado tequila, dark Jamaican rum, overproof rum, La Colombe cold brew coffee, passion fruit, lime and pineapple.
You can't go wrong with a tiki coffee cocktail. According to beverage director Diane Corcoran, "This cocktail is very bright and tropical, but has a bite from tequila and a nice strong coffee backbone. The flavors of the tequila blend really well with the passion fruit and the coffee in this drink."
Location: 1530 Main Street, Dallas, TX
Bartender: Chad Solomon
Cocktail: Hey Ho, Let's Go! ($6) with lemon juice, Crazy Water #4 Texas mineral water, Ethiopian Sidama Ardi Cold Brew Coffee, demerara syrup, Merlet Cassis, Bols Genever, Jameson and mineral saline (salt solution).
The cold brew coffee in this fancy shot is actually made in a Yama brewing tower. It takes hours to produce, but yields a deliciously smooth brew. "The entire shot is built around the fruity aromatics found in the coffee. Irish Whiskey and cassis mesh well here, and the everything else enhances the mouthfeel and structure on the palate," says Solomon.
Location: 927 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Daniel Sabo
Cocktail: Cufflink Flip ($13) with rye, cold brew coffee, apricot, orange citrate and egg.
The Cufflink Flip is an eye opener off the all-day menu that's so boozy that the Ace won't serve it before 10 a.m. Barman Daniel Sabo was playing with coffee egg creams when he was working on this cocktail. "And since it was breakfast focused, we thought we could go richer, so we turned it into a flip and lost the fizzy element," says Sabo.
Location: 317 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, CA
Bartender: Vincenzo Marianella
Cocktail: #INeedCoffee ($13) with bourbon, Amaro Nonino, cold brew coffee and cream.
Vincenzo Marianella created this Instagram-ready coffee cocktail to pair with Love & Salt's sweet brunch dishes like Nutella toast. He favors the cold brew as it "ensures a more flavorful, nuanced final product that is less bitter, so it blends better with the other ingredients."
Location: 1633 Abbott Kinney Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Ryan Wainwright
Cocktail: Night Shift ($12) with bourbon, Jelinek Fernet, milk and cold brew espresso.
Barman Ryan Wainwright created this perfect brunch cocktail before he made his move to Terrine. Originally, it was built from Pu'erh tea and chocolate syrup with iced espresso, but after Wainwright's departure the restaurant changed it to cold brew espresso—which makes for a smoother drink and renders the sweet syrup unnecessary.
Location: 8265 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Ryan Wainwright
Cocktail: Mr. Menotti’s Cold Coffee Grog ($12) with Chairman's Reserve spiced rum, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, Flor de Caña 7 Year, Hamilton Guyana rum, Atlantico rum, Skipper rum, cold brew coffee and vanilla-fernet-infused whipped cream.
Not many will pick up on and appreciate the fact that this coffee cocktail blends six different coffee beans with six different rums. And despite those numbers, it's an easy-drinking libation whose complexity is intensified by the fernet whipped cream.
Location: 8450 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Juan Martinez
Cocktail: But First, Coffee ($15) with vanilla infused tequila, Stumptown cold brew, Café Lolita and cinnamon.
Bartender Juan Martinez's love for vanilla lattes inspired this cocktail. He split three vanilla pods and infused them in a bottle of tequila for three days. "When looking for tasting notes in the cocktail you get chocolate from the Café Lolita, vanilla with a hint of agave, and a rich, complex cold brew from my favorite coffee shop, Stumptown. Overall, it's one of my favorite cocktails of all time," says Martinez.
Location: 2nd Floor, 296 Bleecker Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Grant Wheeler
Cocktail: Okay Cup ($14) with demerera rum, Amaro Nonino, Giffard Vanille de Madagascar, egg white and extra strong cold brew coffee.
Barman Grant Wheeler counterbalanced any coffee bitterness with the demerera rum's earthy sweetness. "This cocktail came about from just exploring what flavors I knew worked well with rich bitter coffee; raw sugar and vanilla," explains Wheeler.
Location: Langham Place Fifth Avenue Hotel, 400 5th Avenue, New York, NY
Bartender: Sarah Karakaian
Cocktail: Bajan Mocha ($17) with Stumptown Nitro Cold Brew, Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, demerara syrup, heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract.
The lounge in the Langham Place on Fifth Avenue prides itself as being the only hotel in the city to offer Stumptown Cold Brew on tap. So, not surprisingly, the cold brew's coffee flavor takes center stage in this cocktail, which is frothy but not too sweet.
Location: 10 W 28th Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Leo Robitschek
Cocktail: The Gentlemen's Exchange ($16) with rye whiskey, Suze, Foro Amaro, Vermouth di Torino, cold brew coffee, absinthe and Angostura bitters.
Eleven Madison Park has been experimenting with cold brew in cocktails since 2008. "Our cold brew has aromas of chocolate and citrus, as well as a bitter undertone, which allows it to work really well with whiskey," says drink creator Leo Robitschek. "In this particular Manhattan variation, I wanted to bring out those flavors and enhance them with the Sicilian oranges and mint from the Foro Amaro, as well as a sarsaparilla-like quality you get from the Vermouth di Torino."
Location: 339 East 75th Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Pamela Wiznitzer
Cocktail: Summer Brew ($13) with Cruz Reposado, cold brew coffee, almond milk, Crown Maple Syrup, Ancho Reyes Liqueur, Angostura bitters and cayenne pepper.
End dinner with this smooth coffee cocktail by bartender Pamela Wiznitzer. It's sweet with some kick from the spicy chili liqueur.
Location: 121 W 10th Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Garret Richard
Cocktail: Tahitian Coffee ($16) with Plantation Barbados rum, Campo de Encanto pisco, cold brew concentrate, house falernum, honey, guava, passion fruit, orange and lime.
Perfect for Tiki-loving coffee addicts, the Tahitian Coffee cocktail marries the island staples of rum, tropical fruit, and coffee into this scorpion bowl-style drink, which is served in a Chemex for two. According to bartender Garret Richard, who created it for Jim Kearns' program, the Stumptown cold brew rounds out "the fruit flavors in contrast to most coffee cocktails where java is the central component."
Location: 727 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR
Bartender: Jesse Card
Cocktail: Boom Swagger Swagger ($9) with Cruzan Black Strap Rum, falernum, Dry Curaçao, and Stumptown cold brew nitro draft.
Bar manager Jesse Card wanted to create a Corn & Oil cocktail with a Pacific Northwest twist, thus he added locally-made cold brew. His Boom Swagger Swagger is "rich and full of fun Caribbean flavors all riding the wave of caffeinated cold brew."
Location: 1203 NE Alberta Street, Portland, OR
Bartender: Jeremy Wilson
Cocktail: The Dude ($8) with Stumptown cold brew, Cruzan Black Strap rum, condensed milk and allspice dram.
This on tap White Russian variation updates the dive bar favorite with cold brew, all spice dram and rum.
Location: 908 K Street, Sacramento, CA
Bartender: Evan Louis
Cocktail: 91 Unleaded ($8.50) with Stolen Rum, Temple Coffee cold brew, cinnamon and Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters.
Rum was the perfect spirit to complement the coffee in the 91 Unleaded. It's a smooth blend of sweet yet smoky, caramel and coffee, with a touch of spice from the rum's tobacco notes.
Location: 4693 30th Street, San Diego, CA
Bartender: Erick Castro
Cocktail: King Coffee ($8) with Flor de Caña white rum, vanilla syrup, AleSmith's Speedway Stout and cold brew coffee.
This is another coffee cocktail inspired by a vanilla latte. But drink creator Erick Castro wanted to make his version boozier and more tropical. "The flavors of the stout and the fruitiness of the white rum create a creaminess and complexity that make this the perfect pick-me-up or after dinner drink," he explains.
Location: 2200 Market St #102, San Francisco, CA
Bartender: Matt Grippo
Cocktail: Coffee and Stout ($9) with stout on nitro (rotating), Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee, Cardamaro, simple syrup and Bonal.
Even though Brewcade doesn't have a full liquor license, that doesn't stop the arcade bar from serving cocktails. This one, created by Blackbird's Matt Grippo, enhances the coffee flavor in the stout (which changes up regularly) with actual cold brew.
Location: 1400 East Union Street, Seattle, WA
Bartender: Sean Klingler and Jesse Martinez
Cocktail: Charles Cold Brew-Kowski ($9) with Kahlua, vodka, Caffe Vita Theo cold brew coffee, finished with a Bailey’s float.
This boozy White Russian-inspired coffee cocktail is available all day and night but is the most popular during brunch. "The Charles Cold Brew-Kowski was simply inspired by its namesake Charles Bukowski, the Los Angeles author known for his influence on modern literature, in addition to his prolific drinking habits, but also because the name was just so much fun to say," explains general manager Crellin Pauling.