Barista Mixology Series: Thai Eye-Opener

Recipe by Eli Masem, Photography by Jonathan Mora

Thai Eye-Opener

 (vegan, makes one 8–10 oz beverage)


• 1.5-2 oz. of Single Origin Espresso (preferably Ethiopian)
• ½ oz Lemongrass Simple Syrup
• 2.5 oz. Coconut Milk


1. Brew 1.5–2 oz. of single origin espresso. 
2. Measure out and combine ½ oz. lemongrass simple syrup and 2.5 oz. of coconut milk.
3. In a martini shaker ½ filled with ice, combine espresso and milk/syrup mixture.
4. Shake thoroughly and serve over ice.

To make the Lemongrass simple syrup, just chop up 3–4 stalks of lemongrass into 2–3 inch segments after peeling off the dirty outer layers. Crack the stalks so that they open up a little and bring to boil in a pot filled with 1 liter of sugar and 1 liter of water. When the mix comes to a boil and all of the sugar has been dissolved (stir well), turn off the heat and let cool. Typically you can find lemongrass at any asian market or specialty grocery store. I prefer slightly diluted coconut cream (equal parts coconut cream and water) because of its thick consistency but any coconut milk will be sufficient. The reason I recommend using a SOE from Ethiopia is that its fruity and floral brightness mixes well with the other tropical ingredients that make up the drink. 

I was looking for a way of combining some of the elements of my favorite things in the world: coffee and southeast Asian food/drink, and dreamt up the Thai-eye opener. I wanted an espresso drink that was cold, refreshing, creamy with coconut milk, and with a light tartness and sweetness, without losing the quality of the espresso. This drink is nice because it lets the customer play with some flavors that might be out of their comfort zone. It makes me think of steaming hot nights in Bangkok, Thailand, a city that seems to be equally busy day or night, anytime of the year. It's what I would want to drink while zooming around the streets in a Tuk Tuk (3-wheeled moto rickshaw) from one spicy food stall to the next until sunrise.