Although Peter Remington has spent years working in the beverage industry, he had never produced something boozy of his very own to sell to thirsty consumers — until he decided to take the coffee liqueur recipe he learned from an old Italian friend out of the kitchen and into the distilling business.
With the help of his cousin Mark Remington Koelsch, he’s co-founded Remington Family Distillers to make the coffee liqueur on a wider scale. Caffe del Fuego, as they’ve decided to call it, is being released to local stores, bars and restaurants in a couple of weeks with the hope that it becomes Austinites’ go-to drink for any late-night pick-me-up they might need. With disarmingly good flavor, the Caffe del Fuego is making a strong case for that.
“Most of the coffee liqueurs out there are far too sweet,” Remington said. “But we wanted something that made coffee the main flavor profile, toning down the sugar quite a bit, so that all you have to do is pour four to five ounces over ice. That’s it.”
The simplicity of the drink will come in handy during those late nights on the town when you need a little burst of caffeine to get you ready for the midnight live music show, he said. You won’t need to turn to an artificially caffeinated beverage like Red Bull with vodka any longer “to get you dancing on the floor with your friends when the band plays at 12:30.”
What separates Caffe del Fuego not only from those kinds of caffeinated drinks but from coffee liqueurs in general, Remington said, is that it’s the only coffee liqueur “we are aware of that uses fully caffeinated, freshly roasted and brewed coffee. The difference is remarkable.”
To get that bold roasted coffee flavor he and his cousin were seeking, Remington Family Distillers partnered with the sustainably minded Austin Roasting Company’s Jess Haynie to create (and produce on a scale much larger than Haynie was used to) “a five-bean blend of specialty-grade pure Arabica coffee beans from four continents,” he said in a press release. “These are estate-lot ethically sourced beans primarily from family-owned micro-lot harvests.”
These beans comprise the main ingredient in Caffe del Fuego. Remington, who’s tinkered with his friend’s recipe for 15 years in his home, also adds a 190-proof neutral grain spirit for the alcohol and vanilla and pure cane sugar for a slight sweet complement to the coffee’s rounded bitterness. The result is a beautifully aromatic liqueur (brought down to 40 proof and 20 percent ABV) with coffee’s rich roasted notes forming the backbone of the drink and a nip of bittersweet chocolate and caramel rounding out the finish. Only the barest of burns at the back of the throat will remind you there’s alcohol in it — but pair it with ice and, for extra sweetness, some half-and-half, and you’ll be tempted to sip on it at any time of the day.
“We created a straight-up one-item cocktail with four pure ingredients that packs the natural caffeine punch with something you can relate to directly — locally roasted high quality Arabica coffee,” Remington said.
Caffe del Fuego’s suggested retail price is $22. For more information, visit www.rfdistillers.com.
And if you’re looking for something a bit more complex than the coffee liqueur with ice once it hits stores, try this cocktail recipe instead that doubles the aroma and adds a touch of honeyed sweetness to it.
2 oz. Caffe del Fuego
1 oz. local honey
Fresh mint garnish
Combine the Caffe del Fuego and honey in a glass and stir. Top with a garnish of fresh mint.
— Adapted from Remington Family Distillers