June 6th marks the return of Negroni Week. The annual seven-day stretch (sponsored by Imbibe Magazine and Campari) honors the classic cocktail and raises money for charity. Although we’re not licensed to sell alcohol, we found inspiration by Negroni Week and curated three unique variations using our coffee and tea.
One of the things that a classic cocktail, such as a negroni, achieves is the creation of a drink that pairs ingredients well, allowing each to have its say while being part of a larger experience. We don’t often see coffee being conceived of in this way. Rather, the prevailing view seems to be in favor of championing a “pure” coffee experience. It makes sense, as consistently making a coffee taste delicious can be hard enough.
What we stand to gain by championing coffee as an ingredient outweighs the risks and effort it takes to incorporate it into a delicious drink. This is one of the ideas animating our Featured Friday menu, as well as our Seasonal Drink menu — to recast coffee in a different light, to celebrate a coffee’s unique flavors by designing a whole drink around them. Suggestive, while also being delicious. Negroni Week serves as a perfect platform for us to showcase those ideas, have some fun, raise money for charity, and serve some very tasty drinks.
For the uninitiated, a negroni consists of equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. The ingredients are stirred with ice, strained into a glass, and typically garnished with an orange peel. The drink is bittersweet and very complex, it has a heavy mouthfeel and a range of light and heavy flavors — citrus, roots, and botanicals are all on display. Because of it’s makeup, the negroni lends itself very well to variations, which makes it a great ideological starting point for a coffee-based negroni riff.
The Bogota Sunrise started with the idea that we could use strong, brewed coffee as a base for a drink that people could make at home without an espresso machine. The coffee from Luis Reinoso, with its clean citrus character, made for a great starting point. We settled on the aeropress as an effective brew method, and created a super-strong coffee using about the 4x the regular coffee dose. A very fine grind and lots of pressure in the aeropress allowed us to extract sweetness and acidity from the coffee. From there we looked for ingredients to play off the Luis’ coffee, and to interact with it in a negroni-like way. Grapefruit juice made a lot of sense, bringing bitterness and tartness, while tonic syrup would bring a big herbal, quinic bitterness and sweetness. From there, as it often does, the process shifted to recipe variations, finding the proportions of ingredients that worked the best together. Using 10 parts of Luis’ coffee ensured that coffee would be the major vehicle in this drink, the crux of it’s flavor and soul. This is a drink that I’m pretty proud of — capturing the best of Luis coffee alongside elements of the negroni, while being just plain tasty.