On Sunday Phoenix Public Market Cafe hosted their first ever Coffee Cocktail event. The evening featured cocktails crafted by six of our favorite Phoenix-area cafes. Here's a summary of the highs and lows of this event, just in case you missed it.
See also: 5 Holiday Coffee Drinks in Metro Phoenix
A representative from Cortez called this drink "the Brown Mule." It bore very little resemblance to any kind of mule or buck cocktail, but it did feature copious amounts of vodka, so who are we to complain. The libation was straightforwardly comprised of chilled dark-roasted Ethiopian coffee from the southern region of Yirgacheffe, chocolate 360 Vodka, Mint 360 Vodka, and a turbinado sugar rim.
According to Cortez, the intention behind roasting the coffee darker than usual was to provide balance and a slightly smoky edge to the drink, but it missed the mark. Coffees from Yirgacheffe are known for being beautifully sweet, light-bodied, herbal, and citrusy. Too much roast development can only detract from what makes the coffees of this region so unique and lovely. The only evidence that the Brown Mule contained of this otherwise gorgeous coffee was a hint of ashiness masked by layers of sugary liquor. Rather than roasting darker than usual, we might have chosen a more suitable, fuller-bodied coffee to stand up to the very sweet chocolate and mint flavors of the vodka.
Phoenix Public Market Cafe
The event's hosts certainly brought a strong showing. We've never thought to combine tequila and coffee before, so we're glad that PPMC took care of the trial-and-error for us on that front. Their drink featured habanero chocolate syrup, heavy cream (yum), Cartel Coffee espresso, Jose Cuervo Gold tequila, and a garnish of cinnamon and pistachio. The habanero lent the drink a spiciness that wasn't manifested so much as a flavor, but more of a warming sensation. The drink was a bit too sweet, but otherwise well-balanced, and was all-in-all a masterful display of both coffee and cocktail craftsmanship.
Ground Control were a crowd favorite for a number of reasons. First, they were dressed as Santa Clauses. Second, their drink was the only warm drink served at the outdoor event. The beverage featured David Rio Chai, a rich, chocolatey coffee from Colombia, Licor 43 (a citrus-y, vanilla-y, honey-y Spanish liqueur), Amarulo (a South African alcohol redolent of Bailey's Irish Cream), Amaretto whipped cream, and an Orange Creme caramel.
Needless to say, the drink featured a lot of really sweet components, but they all banded together nicely to form one incredibly delicious, creamy, seasonally inspired cocktail. Our singular complaint was that the coffee was not particularly dominant, but it did provide a nice, rich underscoring for the other more saccharine elements.
Silent Flight brought a cocktail experience to the event that was unequivocal. Their drink was an impeccably crafted, crisp, and refreshing cocktail that managed to highlight coffee as a critical element within a more complex system of flavors. Sweet, fruity cold-brewed coffee from Ethiopia, accented by cold-brewed cascara (tea made from dried coffee cherries), was nicely complemented by sparkling moscato and elderflower liqueur. The libation was garnished with a wedge of floral and slightly bitter Oro Blanco citrus (which is similar to a grapefruit, but extra special). This drink was creative, beautiful, and all around delightful.
Lofi Coffee's drink was a coffee-forward take on a White Russian. Christened "the Dude" in homage to The Big Lebowski, the drink was definitely the most outwardly boozy. Lofi used vodka in lieu of water to cold brew a batch of Xanadu Coffee's Ethiopia Yirg-Z (short for Yirgacheffe Zero, meaning from the Yirgacheffe region and containing zero defective properties.) The drink was sweetened slightly with an alcohol-forward everclear and vanilla bean syrup. A splash of cream, a dash of ice, and a cocktail umbrella made this drink both fun and functional. And by "functional," we mean "real boozy."
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Presta's contribution to the event was a whiskey and coffee concoction that we were more than happy to imbibe. The drink featured Southern Comfort, Four Roses Bourbon, earthy cold-brewed Sumatran coffee, cranberry juice, and a maraschino cherry. The drink was shaken over ice and served up in an adorably tiny plastic cocktail glass. It was cute, well-executed, and did a great job of highlighting both its coffee and alcohol components.