How to Make Coffee Cocktails and Mocktails

Create delicious coffee cocktails and mocktails.

Coffee cocktails are extremely fun. The entire barista skill set and even the tools come from bartenders, so the crossover makes perfect sense. Barista and bartenders know how to: take care of guests, be personable and professional, make drinks fast, memorize thousands of recipes and steps, balance flavors and come up with riffs and substitutes on the fly in front of patrons. Learn how to make coffee cocktails and mocktails a few different ways.

Deep Dive into Two Coffee Mocktails

The two oldest and well known coffee mocktails are the Cold Fashioned (as seen in Onyx) and the Espresso Tonic (as seen in Fresh Cup magazine).

The Cold Fashioned is a riff on the classic Old Fashioned, getting its name from using cold brewed coffee. It’s a clever riff in the name alone and even more in the flavor combination. The flavors themselves mesh well together, as there is a big crossover in bourbon flavor wheels and the coffee flavor wheel. Here both bourbon and cold brew share tasting notes of orange, cherry, vanilla and woody. It is served still (non-carbonated) and looks great with a contrasting garnish such as a large orange peel.

Cold Fashioned Creamsicle

  • 0.5 oz DaVinci Gourmet Naturals Madagascar Vanilla
  • 1.5 Bulleit Bourbon
  • 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 oz house cold brew coffee
  • 2 oz cream
  • Directions: Stir with ice, clean pouring over fresh ice and expressing orange zest twice to finish

A good example of a contrast to the drink above is The Espresso Tonic. A riff on a gin and tonic. The driving flavors are from the tonic base, where the espresso is to add balance and depth of flavor. This is also an example of a drink that is built “in the glass” as you go.

Our recipe uses 0.25 ounces of espresso because we want it to taste more like a craft gin and tonic recipe. Adding too much espresso raises the liquids' temperature and melts down the ice, thereby losing the carbonated texture of the tonic and worse of all makes the drink too heavy on coffee and light on tonic. It looks gorgeous when layered with the brown espresso on top.

Espresso Tonic

  • 0.25 oz DaVinci Gourmet Cane Sugar Syrup
  • 0.25 oz lime juice
  • 4 oz tonic water
  • 1 cup ice, stir
  • Directions: Float 0.25 oz espresso on top. Garnish with lime wedge.

Time to Make a New Recipe

Now that we have learned about two mocktails and seen how they live in different spaces, let’s make a new recipe for this post. Something blended and with rum. Yes, you guessed it, a Pina Colada of course.

We can use all of these ingredients and do it three ways. First as a cocktail, then a coffee mocktail, then finally a proper coffee cocktail. It’s actually three variations of the recipe with a small set of ingredients.

Blended Pina Colada

    You can also skip the rum for a mocktail. Without the bite from the alcohol we like to add in a little more sourness from the lime juice. A little juiced ginger or a few shakes of cayenne powder can be really nice for a clean heat. The ginger is also a nice complementary flavor.

    Mocktails should feel special, so you can always garnish it with dried coconut flakes lightly sprayed with dark rum. This also adds a nice aroma and visual appeal.

    Affogato Colada Coffee Mocktail

    Now we have a totally new drink by adding in coffee. It looks much different and there is so much you can do. Lightly layer a shot on top, or pour in the shot first then fill with the blended drink.

    Since this is a rum-based drink, I will choose a coffee that has rum qualities to it already. Here we went with a Guatemalan coffee for its regionality being close to the Caribbean and its flavor notes of brown sugar.

    To make it easy on a bar or at home service you can do a simple cold brew, or pre-pull a set of shots and leave in a sauce squeezer in the fridge. To add body and flavor to the coffee you can add 10-20% molasses to your batch as well. This is pleasant if the guest sips just the coffee off the top.

    Now all that is left is to make the drink again with the coffee as well. Let’s take our original base cocktail recipe and add that shot on top.

    Affogato Colada Cocktail

    Remember espresso is very potent and hot, a little goes a long way. If using cold brewed coffee, consider this ice cube riff as well.

    Cold Brew Colada

    There you have it - how to make a few different coffee cocktails and mocktails. For more great ideas, visit the Kerry Foodservice blog and recipes page.