First Published - May 13, 2015 (By Dave Jameson - Resident Coffee Cocktail expert)
Dave Jameson the reigning UK Coffee in Good Spirits Champion is back again for more: follow our resident cocktail guru’s journey to this year’s Coffee in Good Spirits competition!
Last year I entered the UK Coffee In Good Spirits Championship to see what competing was like, and was surprised and overjoyed when I won. I went on to finish 9th in the World Championships in Melbourne and was firmly bitten by the competition bug. So much so that I have taken a year out of judging competitions to focus on competing. This is the story behind the drinks I will be presenting at the UK Coffee In Good Spirits Championship this year.
Part of the feedback I received last year was that although I was using outstanding coffee (Los Lajones Natural Queen Geisha), it was hard to see how good the coffee was through the ingredients I used. My first thought for this year was: how do I create a cocktail which can accurately and fairly represent Geisha and reflect the unique and special nature of how it is grown, processed and delivered?
I began to think about which drinks I perceived as being of very high value and quality – like a Geisha. I kept coming back to Champagne as the logical option. Geisha and Champagne means a seriously high-end cocktail by the end of the process!
I developed the recipe further, researching traditional Champagne cocktails, and started to look for a gin which would be a good match. I tested several gins (terribly hard work) and found that The Botanist, distilled by Bruichladdich and flavoured with 22 wild foraged botanicals from Islay, was an ideal match for my coffee. Subtle, light, delicate and floral. All World Championship cocktails have to include Grand Marnier so my recipe washed out to be 50ml gin, 30ml Grand Marnier and 45ml espresso, shaken over ice, strained and topped up with 10ml of Taittinger Champagne. The finished cocktail takes the character of the coffee – sweet, fruity, floral and sparkly – and amplifies it!
My only issue was that having spent six months developing the recipe, we had exhausted our stock of the Geisha I had been using. This prompted a fairly frantic re-evaluation of the recipe and I decided to use another coffee, the Yayu Wild Forest from the Geri cooperative in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia.
I’m super-proud of my finished drink. It’s delicious and garnished with White Winter Borage flowers, which remind me of coffee blossom. I think it looks as good as it tastes!
Reinventing the classic Irish Coffee
Irish Coffee was created as a winter warmer to perk up passengers disembarking from a Pan Am flight to Shannon in the 1940s. It does a great job of heating you up on a miserable day, but in mid-May, at the Olympia (known to be the hottest place in London at all times) I knew it was going to be a bit difficult to make it truly enjoyable. I have been experimenting extensively with a number of coffees and a number of whiskies to try to find something I enjoy as much as the recipe I used last year. Eventually after much to-ing and fro-ing I decided to re-use the recipe, albeit with espresso instead of aeropress. There’s another subtle difference too: I am serving it cold!
We know that cold coffee works. Cold Brewed coffee has been the break-out success of the past few years, and ice blended drinks earn more for their coffee shop retailers than coffee over the summer. We also know that hot spirits can be a bit overpowering. By adding 10g of muscavado sugar syrup, 25ml of Dalmore 15 Year Old and 3 espressos made with Los Lajones Natural Caturra to a shaker, shaking until cold then layering room temperature cream on top, you make something fundamentally different and interesting. At room temperature, fats take on a really beautiful mouth-coating quality – imagine melted chocolate. By using cream which is slightly warmer you deliver unctuous luxurious mouthfeel, and by keeping the coffee cold you can taste the sweetness and the fruit as well as the best parts of the whisky. This is incredibly drinkable!
It’s quite a gamble to take this approach. Although not explicitly prohibited in the rules, I’m sure that the intention is that Irish Coffee should be hot. It could catastrophically backfire on me, or it could be a great success. I’ll let you know
Thanks for following my progress this year, if you would like to know any more about any of my recipes please tweet me @davidjamesonuk
(I’ll be sharing the two cocktail recipes mentioned in this post later on this week.)