Coffee. Curating. Cocktails.

Coffee: The Missing Ingredient

This Winter I sat down with Amy Zavatto from Imbibe Magazine, and we asked ourselves a simple question: When was the last time you had a great coffee-centric cocktail?

The truth is that most of them are pretty awful. Mixologists have been at once modern-day pioneers, epicureans, and historians – seeking out and reviving forgotten, nearly extinct ingredients and recipes, and finding new, phenomenal ways to bring them back into the bars of today. Yet, coffee remains elusive as a cocktail ingredient. Beyond the stale old eye-rollers of Irish or Spanish Coffee, innovation behind the bar has all but skipped coffee – though it is one of the most fascinating, complex, and malleable items one could add to the shaker. Problem is, most bartenders don’t know how to use it.

With the 10th Anniversary of Tales of the Cocktail approaching, Amy and I decided to write a proposal for a seminar that would shed some light on how to create a great coffee cocktail. Thus spawned “Coffee: The Missing Ingredient”.

The seminar will cover a variety of topics that will de-mystify the art behind brewing excellent coffee and explore how bartenders can use this information to create interesting coffee cocktails. Led by Amy, the panel will discuss:

*Coffee growing countries, characteristics of different coffee varieties and how they can compliment particular spirits

*How learning a little about roast level can help you fine tune your recipes

*How different preparation methods, such as espresso, pour-over and
cold brew can be used to create texture and enhance cocktails

*Discussion on how to set up - necessary equipment, how to source out great roasters, the shelf life of beans and brewed beverages

Meet the panel:


Troy Sidle- Hailing from Denver, Troy spent several years in Chicago working between the Violet Hour and a small boutique roaster called Star Lounge Coffee Bar. Two years ago, Troy moved to NYC and joined Alchemy Consulting where he has designed and implanted cocktail menus worldwide including the coffee cocktail program at The Randolph on Broom.

Michael Phillips - Long time trainer and director of education at Intelligentsia, Michael holds two national barista champion titles, and, in 2010, became the first American to win the World Barista Competition. In the Spring of 2011, he moved to Los Angeles and founded Handsome Coffee Roasters with Chris Owens and Tyler Wells.

Trevor Corlett - CEO and founder of MadCap Coffee Roaster in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Trevor serves on the Executive Council of the Barista Guild of America, is a lead trainer for the Specialty Coffee Association of America and is the Editorial Advisor for Barista Magazine. In addition to a background in coffee roasting, Trevor is also a seasoned barista competitor. Most recently, he has been involved in a collaboration with a cocktail bar offering coffee and spirits pairings as well as working with a DC brewery offering casked coffee and beer.

Cora Lambert - Cora Lambert has seven years of experience working as a barista, trainer, and consultant. Cora got her start as a QC and manager of Think Coffee, worked at Sasha Petraske’s Mercury Dime and most recently spearheaded and opened RBC NYC in TriBeCa, where she held the post of Director of Coffee and General Manager. Last summer, Lambert organized Buzzed: A Coffee Cocktail Mash-Up, an event that teamed up some of NYC’s best baristas and mixologists to create a signature drink around the coffee of their choice. This Spring, Lambert is pursuing her longime passion and interest in cocktails, working at the legendary Manhattan cocktail lounge Milk & Honey.