Creators of a bold new Australian craft spirit plan to change the way we look at the humble coffee liqueur, discovers Nick Walton.
Ask any bartender (or barista for that matter) worth their salt what the biggest trends are for the year ahead and be assured they’ll mention coffee. Cold press, organic, espresso, nitro, infusions – this is undoubtedly the Year of the Coffee Bean, and at the forefront of this hand-trembling trend is award-winning Australian craft spirit Mr Black. Created by self-confessed java junkies designer Tom Baker and distiller Philip Moore, Mr Black is an unashamedly modern homage to Australia’s love affair with two things: alcohol and coffee.
“In Australia, the only thing we take more seriously than the quality of our drinks is the quality of our coffee,” says Tom, who recently launched Mr Black in Hong Kong at Sai Ying Pun’s Winstons Coffee. “So, we combined the two in a bottle.”
Black as ink and packing a hefty coffee punch that’s more real deal than syrupy sweetness, Mr Black is the result of a successful crowd funding campaign, nine months of work and 240 trials. Made from specialty Arabica coffee beans from Ethiopia, Brazil and Papua New Guinea chosen for their distinctive flavours, the beans are then cold extracted over 12 hours to produce a full-flavoured coffee without the acidity and eye-squinting bitterness of an espresso. A 250kg basket press ‘acquired’ from a winery extracts the face-slappingly rich liquid from inside the coffee infusion, which is then blended with Australian grain spirit from a Central Coast distillery (one of only 22 in Australia) that allows the authentic coffee flavours to shine through.
Produced in 300 bottle batches, this is the epitome of contemporary craft distilling and the result is a liqueur that’s silky yet robust, bitter, yet balanced. A gold medal winner a the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London, Mr Black is beautifully presented in equally robust bottles that feature a striking ‘night owl’ design by Australian artist Dale Bigeni that reveals itself as the contents are enjoyed.
Crafted to be drunk over ice, Mr Black lends itself to a host of both classic and contemporary cocktails, but is designed not simply as an ingredient but as a show stealer in its own right. “This isn’t your average coffee liqueur,” says Tom. “This is the real thing, finally.” Expect all the beautiful flavours of a great cup of coffee, from chocolate and caramel notes to touches of citrus and toffee, making it ideal in an espresso martini, an old fashioned, a (only slightly) caffeinated negroni, or over ice with a lemon twist. www.mrblack.co