Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Meet MR BLACK at The Grind House pop-up

Espresso martinis have embedded themselves into contemporary cocktail drinkers' palates, much like the lychee martini of the early 2000s that just won't go away.

And while there are great and terrible versions of it all over Sydney, the odds look good at the Grind House pop-up coffee cocktail bar in Foster Street, Surry Hills this week; in conjunction with the national launch of MR BLACK cold drip coffee liqueur.

MR BLACK cold drip coffee liqueur
MR BLACK took more than six months, 300 iterations and blending coffee from three continents to create before being crowdfunded to market. It's a sweet liqueur with a beautifully strong espresso flavour, best enjoyed simply served over ice after a meal or as a base flavouring for classic coffee cocktails

Mise en place for MR BLACK espresso martini
Recently winner of a Gold Medal at the London International Wine & Spirits Competition, MR BLACK is made from 100% Australian grain spirit and can be mixed with the likes of rum, tequila, Absinthe or vodka - as seen in the MR BLACK espresso martini below, which is so easy to make at home.

Pour shaken drink into a martini glass

MR BLACK espresso martini

1. Measure 45ml of MR BLACK cold drip coffee liqueur and 30ml of vodka into a cocktail shaker full of fresh ice.
2. Shake vigorously until thick foam develops.
3. Strain into chilled martini glass.
4. Enjoy - in moderation.

MR BLACK espresso martini
We caught up with MR BLACK founder Tom Baker ahead of this week's national launch at the Grind House pop-up, open to the public from 13-14 June 2014 at The Nixon Project on Foster Street, Surry Hills.

Led by mixologist Mischa Bonova of Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney, punters will be able to try a range of MR BLACK coffee cocktails at the Grind House and experience a nocturnal twist on their morning coffee, including boozy iced coffees and macchiatos, and of course, the espresso martini.

MR BLACK founder Tom Baker (left) and distiller Phillip Moore (right)
(Image courtesy of The Sound Campaign)

FB&S: Tell us about the development process for Mr Black. Many sleepless, coffee-fuelled nights?
Tom: I wish I could say the development of MR BLACK was all caffeine-fuelled orgies and debauchery, but more honestly it was month after month at the workbench. It's not like making a whisky or a gin - there are no guidebooks on creating a coffee liqueur. We had to invent a process and obsessively experiment with equipment, grinds, roasts, beans, steeping times and barrels.

At the end of the day, you can taste our fastidious attention to detail with every sip and it's the reason we've been so well received by drinkers around the world.

FB&S: What is the spirit component of Mr Black? 
Tom: We use 100% Australian Grain spirit to fortify MR BLACK to it's bottle strength of 25%. Our grain spirit is beautifully clean with no off aromas or impurities that taint the flavour of our speciality coffees.

FB&S: Why did you choose to use a crowdfunding platform to raise money? And what was the crowdfunding experience like?
Tom: Being a booze brand in Australia is a really tough gig. Not only do we get taxed heavily, but we have to go up against multinational companies with deep pockets. Crowdfunding was a way for us to get out product in front of people who really care about what they drink and to a certain extent sidestep the normal route-to-market for booze.

The experience on Pozible was unbelievable: while there was a lot of anticipation leading up to the event, we reached our funding goal really early on which took the pressure off. Once we had exceeded our initial target, we could stop thinking about selling booze and start thinking about how were going to make it all!

FB&S: What's your favourite coffee cocktail? And what's your favourite classic cocktail?
Tom: Personally I'm a fan of boozy cocktails - I don't really do big sweet juicy numbers - so I'm really digging the MR BLACK 'Rye-ball' at the moment, made with MR BLACK, Rittenhouse 100 Proof Rye Whisky & Campari.

When I've had enough coffee for the evening, a classic Negroni is always the first cab off the rank. I can never believe how one drink can taste so good.

See here for more information on MR BLACK.

Food, Booze & Shoes received a sample of MR BLACK, with thanks to The Sound Campaign.


Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Now that's one sexy cocktail!

Tina said...

Hi Helen - Sure is, just not too many before bedtime (as I discovered the other night - or early morning I should say...)

Mr C @ The Food Diary said...

The martini looks pretty awesome :D


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