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Steamy Coffee Specialties

Steamy Coffee Specialties

—Robert Plotkins

COMPELLING COFFEE: "We've found that even the sound of coffee beans being ground has a favorable impact on sales," says Brooke Crothers.

The Mosaic Restaurant is an elegant slice of heaven ensconced in the rolling desert hills of North Scottsdale. AZ. Over its fouryear existence the Mosaic has evolved into an acclaimed desert destination due in no small measure to the talents of bar chef and sommelier Matt Rinn. Mirroring the artistry and philosophies of owner/chef Deborah Knight, Rinn tempts their guests with a changing array of cocktails¯all prepared with impeccable ingredients and refreshingly different spirits and liqueurs.

"Despite living and working here in the desert, we take our coffee seriously," says Rinn. "We worked with a roaster and developed our own proprietary blend, one that has low acidity, a creamy full body and is loaded with alluring aromatics. It's a userfriendly coffee, so to speak, one perfectly suited for drink-making."

Rinn and bartender extraordinaire Stephanie Kozicki have concocted an impressive roster of specialty coffees, including the best-selling Amadeus Coffee, a savory blend of Mozart Dark and White Chocolate Liqueurs, Jewel of Russia Bilberry Infusion and hot coffee. The drink is finished off with a cap of whipped cream and a chocolate cocktail stick.

"We look to use unusual products in our specialty drinks," explains Rinn. "For example, one of our coffee drinks features PatrÛn X.O. Cafè Liqueur, which is made from a base of PatrÛn tequila. People love the drink and can't quite put their finger on what gives it that all-important taste difference. That's the key."

Rinn and Kozicki have devised coffee drinks fueled by such products as Damiana, a Mexican herbal liqueur, D'Aristi Kalani, a liqueur made from pure sugar cane syrup and natural coconut extract, Charbay Tahitian Vanilla Rum and ultra-premium Badia, a Coltibuono grappa.

Two of Mosaic's universally pleasing Java specialties are the Border Cafè, which is made with Chambord, Bushmills Irish Cream, coffee, whipped cream and a drizzle of hot caramel syrup, and the Hot Cactus Bloom, a delicious blend of Kahlúa, cinnamon schnapps and a bracing shot of Knob Creek Bourbon. At Courtright's Restaurant in Willow Springs, IL, the man to see about all things beverage is master mixologist Marco Reccio. "We've had tremendous success offering our guests coffee drinks after dinner. They're soothing and stimulating at the same time, and can serve as a dessert or an after-dinner drink. Women tend to drink them most."

Reccio likes to create Java specialties that excite the senses and engage the imagination. One such concoction is the Jamaican Coffee, a luscious combination of Myers's Jamaican Rum, Tia Maria, dark crðme de cacao, brandy and hot coffee with a whipped cream garnish. Another Courtright specialty is named, simply enough, the Sally Coffee, and features a blend of Amarula Cream Liqueur, Navan Vanille Noire de Madagascar and coffee.

Brooke Crothers has a slightly different take on the subject. She's the beverage manager at the posh Mission Inn in Riverside, CA. "Naturally we offer our guests some genuinely marvelous coffee drinks," she says, "But for us, it's all about the coffee."

Crothers believes strongly in marketing the quality and freshness of their coffee, and its ability to pique the senses of customers. She set up a cart adjacent to the dining room where servers can grind whole beans. The wafting aromas of ground beans and fresh brewed coffee are irresistibly alluring.

"We've found that even the sound of the coffee beans being ground has a favorable impact on sales," says Crothers. "The approach has really bolstered our marketing efforts. Once their dinners are done, our guests are primed and ready to drink some coffee or sample one of our coffee-based specialty drinks."

That's why she says, "It's all about the coffee."

Robert Plotkin is a judge at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the author of numerous books, including the 5th edition of The Bartender's Companion: The Original Guide to American Cocktails and Drinks.