Fliquor Bean creator Jerry DeFazio surreptitiously slid the small dark vial across the table to me while we sat in the back corner of a coffee shop. The sample bottle was filled with unicorn tears, angel’s breath, ambrosia. A mix that will cure writer’s block and any boring mimosa brunch. He didn’t have to promise that, I already knew it. Because what was in that bottle was cold brew coffee made with whiskey instead of water. It’s no liqueur; it’s an actual 90-proof spirit, no sugar added.
It’s amazing that no one had thought of this simple genius idea sooner. And yet DeFazio, who moved to L.A. from Austin two years ago, just came up with the concept and name for Fliquor Bean last Thanksgiving. Back then he drank whiskey on the job—he was a cameraman for scripted television—mixing his favorite brown spirit with the office Folgers. But he wanted a way to brew coffee and cut out the water completely. Because, pfft! Why dilute it? Fortunately he had a barista friend who took him through different brewing processes until they finally settled on the cold brew method of simply steeping the coffee in whiskey. He definitely didn’t want to cook out the alcohol with heat.
The resulting liquid is the perfect blend of coffee and whiskey without any acid from the former or burn from the latter. The whiskey hits you up front but finishes off with a coffee taste. It’s smooth and dangerously quaffable thanks to the cold brew process, the use of Stumptown Hairbender coffee, and Bowen’s whiskey from Bakersfield. “[Bowen’s is] perfect for what I’m doing. Just the sweet notes that he has in his whiskey add so much to the coffee so you don’t need to add any sugar,” explained DeFazio.
He recommends drinking it on the rocks. Or add simple syrup and cream for what he calls a “White Columbian.” The possibilities for this coffee whiskey are endless for coffee geeks trapped in the body of a whiskey lover.
Just don’t shoot it. “When people take shooters of it it just grosses me out,” shuddered DeFazio. “All that caffeine and 90 proof whiskey going right down the hatch just doesn’t sound attractive to me. It’s not like Fireball. You’re not going to be taking shots all night. You slowly sip on it.”
It’s not the next Redbull and vodka or Four Loko either. “I don’t think it’s a college kid type of thing. It’s more of a way to start off your night, start off your morning, start off your afternoon.” Have it for happy hour or brunch. Or, as DeFazio’s musician friends do, for late-night writing sessions. “It’s got that coffee so that it keeps you up in the wee hours of the morning and it’s also got that whiskey to loosen you up mentally to try new things and experiment.”
If you’re thinking, “Hey, I have a bottle of whiskey and decent coffee at home. I’ll just do it myself,” be warned that it’s an expensive and difficult learning process. “If you’re using bottom shelf whiskey, you can play around all day because it doesn’t cost that much. If you’re going into more expensive coffee and more expensive whiskey one batch could cost you $60,” said DeFazio.
But if you’d rather just buy a bottle unfortunately it’s still not available even though the company has gotten a lot of attention lately. Fliquor Bean still needs to get approval from the federal government first. Not just for a wholesale license but for the formula and label, and DeFazio wagers it’ll take a couple of months for all that to happen. But once it does he projects he’ll be able to put out 1,100 750ml bottles at a time, which will only be sold in California “craft liquor stores” and hopefully available on bar shelves.
From there, DeFazio’s considering creating small grab-and-go shots for retail, different whiskies made with different blends of coffee, and possibly distilling. Keep an eye on Fliquor Bean’s progress by following its Twitter and Facebook.