What we learned from tasting 10 different coffee cocktails

Friday, 20 October, 2023

Congratulations to the Bar Sauce team on a successful and very entertaining launch! This collaboration between Art of Duplicity, Truth Coffee and Hope Distillery is a tasty and stylish affair and we have also gained a new found appreciation for bartenders.

The original idea was that it would be Baristas vs Bartenders, but honestly, baristas do not possess this skillset. Yet, at least! So we got a show from some of the best bartenders in Cape Town and also CJ Tait, keeping it real for the baristas (and the only contender to use a shot of espresso in his beverage. 

So the competitors had 30 min at the beginning of the night to suss out the supplied ingredients (including Art of Duplicity new range, but also shitake infused sake anyone?) and they could bring a few of their own (max 5) with them if they wanted. The rule was that the cocktail had to have a coffee element to it and it had to be well balanced.

Introducing the new Art of Duplicity line of spirits, from left, Coffee Liqueur, London Dry Gin and of course, Coffee-Infused Gin.

So the judges were bartender extraordinaire Brent Perremore, coffee and now wine guy, Jono Le Feuvre and Michelin level chef, Rikku O'Donnchu (soon to be opening his own space in Woodstock!). 

Everyone was allowed to taste the offerings and perhaps the most surprising cocktail of the night was a beetroot infused number that had us all scratching our heads and wanting to go back in for another sip! Well done to Dex from Strangelove at Hope Distillery for his 'And the Beet Goes On' creation.

Chef Rikku explained to me that by combining three ingredients with 'earthy' notes (coffee gin, mushroom sake and beetroot), a whole new flavour (bizarrely not earthy!) was created. And it looked spectacular.

But in the end, it was Grant Paterson of Fable who took out the competition with his Atomic Express, that was adjudicated to both highlight the coffee and remain balanced.

So David Donde (pictured below) was a bit upset that the baristas that had signed up didn't take up the challenge in the end, but we can completely understand why! This level of blending flavours is no mean feat! And there's a surprising amount of subtlety involved. It's easy to tell a bad cocktail from a good cocktail, but the best between two great ones? It's about as difficult as making a great cocktail. You really have to have an understanding of all the flavours involved, at a chef level. 

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