Part 2: Mixing It Up
by Nic Tracy
As we covered in Part 1, this is the year to retain cold brew in your menu options this autumn and covered some insights into basic fall brewing; but what about serving? How do we adapt cold brew for the chillier weather?
While we touched on ways to serve cold brew as a warm beverage at the end of Part 1, it doesn't end there! Going back to the catalyst that started this conversation, the Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew is essentially a cold brew mocktail; let's talk about mixing cold brew in creative drinks and give you a few festive recipes to try for yourself!
Cold Brew Mixing Fundamentals
Mixing up craft mocktails does add some time to the drink preparation process compared to serving cold brew "straight"; however, the added time is negated when using cold brew because of the aforementioned time savings and you can charge a premium for the added time. The richer, smokier flavors that accompany a darker concentrate actually lend themselves very well to mixing, as they stand up to mixing with other ingredients and you can use a concentrate as a stand-in for hard alcohol. The most infamous example of this is the delicious "Cold Fashioned" mocktail (an Old Fashioned with cold brew subbed for bourbon). Think of the strength of the brew like the alcohol percentage of the cocktail base; while concentrates represent the hard liquors, RTDs are more like beers and other lighter alcohols. When constructing cold brew mocktails, keep this in mind and mix concentrates/RTDs like their depressant counterparts.
Check out this video on some handy tips and tricks for mixing from Levi Andersen of Kerry Group/DaVinci Gourmet!
Constructing a Beverage
When you go about creating a new seasonal mixed drink, you can do a mix of three things:
1. Take a regular cocktail you enjoy and sub the alcohol for cold brew
2. Choose beans that match the desired flavor of your beverage
3. Build the drink based on the flavor profile of your beans
The Cold Fashioned is a good example of option 1; the Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail and the Cold Fashioned simply subs cold brew for the bourbon. To implement option 2, you could choose your beans to match the flavor profile of bourbon (caramel/chocolate/cherry flavors come to mind) or whatever base alcohol or final drink idea you're going for. Option 3 is a little more difficult, but can be very rewarding; let's say you've got a unique single origin RTD that has strong orange or berry notes. You could then make a very tasty mocktail with honey, some kind of citrus (obvious choice would be orange), sparkling water and perhaps a dash of bitters that would be extremely refreshing on a warm fall day.
Cocktails vs. Mocktails
Let's address the elephant in the room; while mocktails are definitely a fun and tasty way to switch up your menu, what about using actual alcohol? While alcohol certainly makes mixing easier due to the abundance of classic recipes out there, there is more to consider before you simply post some delicious craft cocktails on your menu. Most prevalent is the need for a liquor license; without one it is illegal to serve alcoholic beverages. This is even true of bitters; even though you're typically using just a dash or two, if it has alcohol in it you need a license. Luckily, there are plenty of nonalcoholic bitters on the market that are completely fine to use in craft mocktails.
While having a liquor license certainly opens opportunities for your menu, in the absence of one there are definitely other means to utilize your cold brew in some falltime cocktails; it all hinges on collaboration. Consider teaming up with a local bar or brewery to get your cold brew used in some craft beverages; meet with them and come up with a unique drink that elevates both your brands in your community! This is a great workaround if you don't have a liquor license and it is either too difficult or cost-prohibitive to obtain one in your city/state.
Now that you've got the fundamentals of mixing up a good craft beverage, here are a few tasty autumnal cold brew mocktail recipes for you to try out!
Select each picture to be taken to the relevant website for the recipe.
The Cold Fashioned (a classic, also pictured above):
The Snickerdoodle Cream (courtesy of City Brew):
Red Autumn Cold Brew (I suggest a lighter, berry-forward brew for this one):
The Pumpkin Cream (to outdo Starbucks with):
The Bruce Wayne (this one's got booze + maple syrup):
Give these falltime cold brew mocktails a shot and let us know how you like them - feel free to tweak them to match you/your customers' flavor preferences if need be!
Now that Starbucks has done their part to popularize autumn cold brew, it's the perfect time to keep slinging cold brew in your shops. The stigmas around cold brew being an exclusively summer beverage are steadily declining and will only continue to do so; now is the time to keep it on your menu! Whether that is through warmer preparation methods or whipping up some killer mocktails (or cocktails), I encourage you to capitalize on the trend and continue your cold brew profits in fall 2019!