I recently caught up with Chuck when he was in Calgary to compete in the Buffalo Trace Bourbon competition, which he just happened to win - taking home top prize with a coffee-based cocktail. Tarquin: “Do you recall the moment that you truly discovered coffee culture?” Chuck: “I would have to say that beer was my first liquid love, but coffee is where I really developed my palate. Coffee also gave me my first taste for the craft of a drink. I love drink creation because it combines both craft and palate development. (Chuck is an avid home brewer, who cut his teeth at Transcend Coffee as a coffee roaster, and is quickly becoming one of Alberta’s premium drink-slingers.) My first immersion into coffee culture was a trip to Portland. I averaged (visiting) 4 different coffee shops over 4 days and was amazed at the differences from place to place and how diverse coffee could be. I was also blown away by a culture that was built on constant evolution and pursuit for perfection. Now, as I’ve found my way to spirits and cocktails, I attempt to bring this passion for betterment to bartending.” Tarquin: “You won the Buffalo Trace Bourbon competition at The Bourbon Room in Calgary. The reward was a trip to their distillery in Kentucky, and you won the competition with a coffee based beverage. How did coffee inspire you with your cocktail?”
Chuck: “I love the complexity of coffee and how it stands up to brown spirits and melds with the Carpano Antica vermouth I used. I also love the acidity that comes out in coffee through the cold brewed process. This acidity creates some great high notes in cocktails.” Tarquin: “What is currently your favourite coffee-based cocktail? “ Chuck: “I really love the “Jarmusch cocktail” at Model Milk in Calgary. The combination of coffee and tobacco syrup is a natural.” Tarquin: “Where should the coffee/cocktail scene in Alberta go next?” Chuck: “Like everything in Alberta, we need to have more people opening places with a focus on (the) passion for what they are doing instead of a passion for making money. The focus needs to be on service and craft rather than just the bottom line.” Tarquin: “I couldn’t agree more, I think it starts with education. It’s a free market and people are going to sell what other people are willing to buy, so we need to continue to educate others, and nothing wins over people faster than something that tastes amazing.” A simple coffee based cocktail that is perfect for an after-dinner digestif.
Cafe Marasca 1oz Alberta Premium Rye 1oz Luxardo Sangue Morlacco Sour Cherry Liqueur 1/2oz brewed Paradise Mountain Organic coffee 4 drops Bittered Sling Plum & Rootbeer bitters
Combine ingredients in mixing vessel. Add ice and stir. Once chilled, strain into a glass with a large ice-cube. Eat some dark chocolate. Sip, savour and enjoy. Luxardo Sangue Morlacco is excellent for mixing with coffee. For those only familiar with the Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, this is a markedly different expression. It is less floral and much richer. It is a deep ruby-red with a flavour that is both sweet and sour, so ideal for complementing with the soursweet notes of a fine roast of coffee. The rye acts as a perfect counterpoint of dry, rich spice. Plum Root beer bitters add some delightful notes on the first nosing and continue to express complexity on the finish of the drink. Tarquin Melnyk is a Certified Specialist of Spirits, always down to try something new.
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