Inspired by Starbucks brown sugar oat milk shaken espresso, this cold brew cocktail features a homemade brown sugar simple syrup and bourbon. It's refreshing, warming, and super easy to make!
There are few beverages that I love more than cold brew. And as much as I enjoy summery cocktails like strawberry tequila smash and margaritas, I think that coffee deserves a place at the summer cocktail table.
This drink is inspired by the popular brown sugar oat milk shaken espresso from Starbucks. But that name is a bit of a mouthful, so I'll stick to calling this a brown sugar cold brew cocktail.
It's super simple to make, with no special cocktail ingredients or equipment required. It has all of the smoothness and sweetness of the brown sugar shaken espresso, with a touch of warmth from whiskey.
- Cold brew concentrate: For the best and strongest flavor, I recommend using a cold brew concentrate. I don't recommend regular iced coffee or leftover coffee because it gets watered down by the ice.
- Brown sugar syrup: This is simply a combination of equal parts of light brown sugar and water.
- Coconut milk: I recommend using full-fat coconut milk, but lite does work in a pinch. I tested this recipe with oat milk and soy milk, but they tend to coagulate when mixed with bourbon. They do work and provide a similar flavor, but require frequent stirring or vigorous shaking to stay mixed.
- Bourbon: I like using bourbon because it has warming flavors that go well with the brown sugar simple syrup. However, whiskey also works and I imagine this cocktail would be good with rum as well.
How to make
The only part of this recipe that requires a little bit of time is the brown sugar simple syrup, which takes all of 3 minutes to make.
I do recommend making the simple syrup in advance and chilling it for the best results. If you don't have time to chill it, simply make the cocktail in a cocktail shaker instead of directly in the glass, where the warm syrup tends to melt the ice cubes.
You can make the simple syrup on the stove, in the microwave, or in a heat-proof glass. I like making the brown sugar simple syrup by heating water in a kettle and whisking it vigorously in a heat-safe pint jar that doubles as storage. This way means fewer dishes!
Tips and variations
- Coconut milk has a high-fat content. When it is mixed with ice cubes, the fat tends to solidify. To avoid this, shake or whisk the drink vigorously before serving.
- I like using bourbon in this cocktail because it's sweeter than whiskey, but whiskey does work as well. I imagine this cocktail would also go well with rum.
- If you prefer a hot drink, simply use an equal amount of hot coffee and skip the ice cubes.
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Brown Sugar Cold Brew Cocktail
Brown Sugar Simple Syrup
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar
- ⅓ cup water
Brown Sugar Cold Brew Cocktail
- 2 ounces cold brew concentrate
- 2 ounces bourbon whiskey also works
- 1 ounce full fat coconut milk see note #1
- ½ to 1 ounce brown sugar simple syrup adjust to taste
- ice cubes
- cinnamon to garnish
- To make simple syrup on the stove, combine the water and brown sugar in a small pot. Simmer over medium heat, stirring as needed until the sugar melts and a syrup forms, about 2-3 minutes.
- In a cocktail shaker, combine the cold brew, bourbon, coconut milk, and brown sugar simple syrup with a few cubes of ice. Shake vigorously. If you don't have a cocktail shaker, just whisk together the ingredients in a cup.
- Serve the drink over a few cubes of ice. Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon.
- Milk: I have also made this with soy milk and oat milk, but they coagulate when mixed with alcohol and require frequent stirring.
- Make the simple syrup on the stove, in the microwave, or with water from a kettle in a heat-safe jar. To make it in the microwave, simply microwave the sugar and water together in a heat-safe jar, whisking every 30 seconds until completely dissolved. To make with a kettle, add almost boiling water to a heat-safe jar with the brown sugar. Whisk vigorously to melt the sugar.
- Store leftover simple syrup in the fridge.
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