I met Lukas in Berlin at Happy Baristas, one of those innovative specialty coffee shops in the German capital I really like. He’s been the one creating their signature drinks & coffee cocktails for Berlin Coffee Festival and I loved watching him prepare the drinks.
After deciding, studying Sociology in Mainz wasn’t the fun that bartending gave him, he returned to Berlin and has been part of the Happy Baristas team right from the beginning, gaining additional skills as a Barista included:
“The experience I received with coffee and coffee brewing are absolutely valuable… coffee smelling and tasting is so complex, it’s good to have a trained palate and know about the possibilities, when it comes to mixing…”
It didn’t take long to ask Lukas, if he’d provide two recipes for my website. Both of them have alcohol, but they’re great as a light cocktail and not too heavy for starting off into a fun night with some dancing and partying.
“I love good music; hence I came up with the names for my drinks… “
‘My funny Mandarine’ needs to be drunken rather quickly, since it’s not served on ice. ‘Kentucky Coffee Shuffle’ has a solid ice cube in it, so you’re able to enjoy it longer.
The first one is a twist on an Espresso Martini, Lukas-style. Why? Well, he told me, he likes to use regional and local produced spirits – in Germany many areas make their own spirits of seasonal fruits, in fact. For ‘My funny Mandarine’ he used a tangerine or mandarin orange spirit.
“Spirits made from fruits work very well with Espresso, I’d suggest using a rather sweet and fruity espresso for mixing with less acidity, though.”
Fruits Spirits helped Lukas to train his palate and to smell and taste the different notes in coffee. A blueberry spirit is like a concentrated version of blueberry aroma. Compared with aroma kits, it’s always a good idea to practice with natural aromas, he told me.
For everyone trying recipes without alcohol, Lukas suggests using home made syrups from seasonal fruits such as blackberries or high quality fruits puree or jams or even better fresh fruits, if available.
‘My funny Mandarine’ also has home made syrup of coriander seeds… So, you’re not limited to fruits here, but can use herbs and spices, as well. Lukas adds, though:
“It’s not so much about using fancy ingredients to make a great coffee cocktail. The best ideas are the simple ones. It’s so much more about the ‘wow’ effect, you know, what I mean…? “
Staying local with blackberries or even beet root (!), either as a juice or spirit, you can do a really nice Negroni version, too, he told me.
“The earthiness of the beetroot is bridging the world of cocktails and coffee very well here.”
Working behind the bar, be it cocktails or coffee, being close to the guest, crafting results that are visible and drinkable right away, is what strikes him.
“I’d like to treat my guests, it’s nice to see an immediate recognition.”
Whenever I walked into Happy Baristas and seeing Lukas behind the bar preparing those wonderful drinks, he’d always been open to exchange a couple words with his guests and customers of the shop.
Besides the hospitality aspect, he mentions a certain attention to detail in everything he is doing, be it an extraction time of 29 sec and a 40g output of one espresso shot. Or referring to bartending:
“Think of a drink that you as the guest receive with the garnish having fallen into your drink…. Ugh…I know, right? It really does matter, if the barkeeper is taking the time for a great finish with some garnish or decoration! In my experience with too many people in the shop or at the bar, often the quality of the service or the cocktail mixing is going down, too, unfortunately.”
For ‘Kentucky Coffee Shuffle’, the other coffee cocktail I was lucky enough to try-taste, Lukas used cold brew, instead of espresso.
“We need a strong coffee with this drink here. A concentrate of 1 amount of coffee to 4 amounts of water and extracted over 5 hours works really well. We need an intense coffee aroma and the cold brew concentrate is providing this for this twist on an Manhattan.”
Together with the other ingredients this drink results in a great combination of aromas of vanilla, wood, nut and coffee, he told me.
Here are the recipes:
Coffee Cocktail #1 My funny Mandarine
3cl tangerine or mandarin orange spirit
1cl coriander seed syrup (not shown in the photos, but it’s the small dark bottle)
1 dash chocolate bitters
How to: Shake well with ice cubes, fine-strain, serve straight (no ice added) in a pre-cooled water goblet.
Garnish: Orange zest wrapped around a thyme twig
Coffee Cocktail #2 Kentucky Coffee Shuffle
3cl Bourbon Whiskey
3cl Boal Madeira
3cl Cold Brew coffee concentrate (1:4)
0,5cl nuts liquor
1 dash Angostura Bitters
How to: stir well and strain in a pre-cooled water goblet or a tumbler on a solid ice cube
Garnish: Orange zest
If you’re trying one or even both of these coffee cocktails, let me know, how they turned out! I’d love to hear your feedback on the recipes! :-)
If you wanna read more about coffee cocktails or signature drinks, here’s a guide to great places, I came across in Chiang Mai, Thailand.