Big Joe’s Quarantini is the Bea’s Knees

A few months ago I challenged our good friend, Big Joe, based in Seattle, to create some coffee cocktails with our coffee. Within days he whipped up some great ones (recall the Kahlúa Pig Coffee Cocktail). He was going to tinker more and even write a blog post. But then there was work, COVID-19 shutdowns and sheltering, and the momentum was lost. I excerpted some of his inner thoughts from an email to me, which I share here with his permission:

“When I think of your coffee I think of strong coffee, and I don’t think of mixed drinks.  I want to think of a drink that does your coffee justice as well.

I feel excited and challenged to create cocktails that respect premium coffee and is not just some sickly sweet dessert drink that make the coffee irrelevant. One drink will be martini-esque — just pure cold vodka, a to-be-determined proportion of strong-brewed coffee, and maybe a fun rim of coffee grounds held on by a little surprise tang of lemon juice or a smooth kiss of maple syrup (just as glue on the rim to hold a few grounds).  The grounds are both a visual reminder that this is a serious coffee drink and they will provide the aromatics that a lot of modern cocktails add — something for the nose alone not necessarily “in” the drink.

And final thoughts.  The latest craze in speakeasy mixology is “chocolate bitters” — just a few drops added to unexpected drinks (the product is just highly concentrated chocolate essence and optional spices and natural bitter preservatives).  Imagine even something with whiskey, vermouth, pineapple juice AND THEN a few drops of chocolate bitters — I swear I’ve tasted four different drinks (two were mine) where chocolate bitters really made it a unique experience.  It is easy to find “chocolate bitters” in Seattle or Portland or online. There are also companies making “coffee bitters” to add that unique complex hint of coffee flavor molecules to other drinks.  (For people who like surprises of flavor, which is not everybody). 

Side note, I think that “new flavors” are a cooking trick that some people really like. That’s why there are food trends that fade away – they are exciting at first, but once the surprise factor is gone … the NEXT new flavor profile will cause the last trend to fade away for quite a while.  I don’t own chocolate bitters or coffee bitters, and I doubt many blog readers would want to go purchase a bottle to make a recipe.  I mention that because I would like to experiment with a strong drink that adds a carefully calculated bit of coffee just to the level of increasing the flavor complexity without tasting “like coffee” BUT to pull it off it may also need a little chocolate bitters.  I may or may not achieve this result, but I will  experiment with it …”

The martini recipe is 2 oz coffee and 2 oz vodka poured over ice. Stirred not shaken. Then strained into coffee-rimmed martini glass. Coffee is held on by lemon juice or maple syrup. One plate with maple syrup,  one plate with coffee grounds. 

Enjoy your Bea’s Knees quarantini. Thanks, Big Joe!

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