M’lissa Muckerman Shows You How to Make a Coffee Cocktail

M’lissa Muckerman designs coffee cocktails for Jane Q in Hollywood, Calif. M’lissa breaks down some of her favorite recipes and explains how to make your own coffee cocktails at home.


Photos by Rachel Ayotte

Chances are, you’ve seen coffee legend M’lissa Muckerman somewhere—perhaps cheering you on as one of the original founders of the Thursday Night Throwdown, or making you a drink as the manager of G&B Coffee in Los Angeles, or maybe on the cover of the 2008 February/March issue of Barista Magazine (“Can you believe it’ll be almost 10 years soon?” M’lissa asks). Now, you can find M’lissa slinging drinks as the head barista for Jane Q, a produce-driven restaurant and café that is part of the Kimpton Hotels group. Along with training baristas and consulting on all things coffee for the group, M’lissa has also designed the coffee menu, including a number of cocktails that combine coffee and booze in fun and interesting ways.

M’lissa dishes out delicious drinks at Jane Q, where she is in charge of making and designing the menu, including this take on a White Russian, made with cold brew steeped in vodka.

Using coffee from Lamill Coffee Roasters in Los Angeles, M’lissa usually thinks big for her coffee cocktails, and uses her knowledge of coffee to think about how best to combine it with liquor. “Designing a signature drink usually begins as a crazy thought,” M’lissa shares. “My cold-brewed coffee vodka I came up with while thinking about a conversation I had with James Hoffmann like 10 years ago about coffee’s alcohol solubility.” In this drink, M’lissa uses vodka to brew instead of water. “The Everly [one of the hotels in the Kimpton Group] was about to have its grand opening party, and I was tasked with the delicious job of creating a coffee cocktail for the event so I thought I’d give the coffee vodka a go! We had a really lovely Colombian coffee from Lamill in-house and knew it would be able to stand up to the more intense brew process, so experiments ensued.” The coffee vodka was used as a base for a coffee-based White Russian.

M’lissa was inspired to use vodka after a conversation with James Hoffmann about the solubility of coffee in alcohol. Coffee is much more soluble in alcohol, which she adjusts with shorter brewing times and coarser grind settings.

M’lissa also uses this process to extract hot coffee. “Through some testing, I discovered that alcohol extracts coffee much faster than water, so I adjusted the grind coarser and shortened the brew times.  I then used the hot coffee vodka in an Irish Coffee, replacing the filter coffee component,” she says. Below are some the recipes M’lissa created so you can try your hand at both a cold-brew vodka coffee and a hot coffee brewed with vodka. M’lissa is always experimenting with new combinations and brewing methods, and encourages coffee enthusiasts to try their hand at their own fun concoctions.“I think the best way to make a signature drink at home is to experiment with things you think will be delicious using your favorite coffee and brew process,” she says.

M’lissa, shown here making her Vodka Cold Brew, encourages folks with an idea for a drink to experiment and try making cocktails based on ingredients they like.

Vodka Brewed Hot Coffee 
15g coffee ground on the coarsest setting
250g vodka in a kettle heated on an induction burner
I use my Clever dripper and let the coffee brew for 3 minutes before placing it on the decanter.
Irish Coffee
2.5oz (70g) Vodka Brewed Hot Coffee
1.25oz (35g) Irish whiskey
1tsp (4g) brown sugar
1oz (30g) lightly whipped cream floating on top
A vodka-based White Russian, using the vodka cold brew.
Cold-Brewed Coffee Vodka
90g coffee ground on the coarsest setting
1 bottle (750 mL) vodka
Combine and chill for a couple hours (you don’t need to leave it as long as water-brewed cold brew)
Filter out the grounds; I use my Clever dripper for this as well
White Russian with Cold-Brewed Coffee Vodka
2oz (55g) Cold-Brewed Coffee Vodka
2/3oz (18g) Coffee Liqueur; I like St George Nola Coffee Liqueur
1oz (28g) cream or half-and-half
About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at ashley@baristamagazine.com.

1 Comment

Comments are closed.