The Superhero at Carbon Beverage Cafe
When Habit Doughnut Dispensary and Carbon Beverage Cafe opened five months ago on Platte Street, the plan was to sell lots of coffee and doughnuts. But beverage coordinator Matthew Spicer took it a step further by coming up with a way to add booze, making possible a tantalizing trifecta of doughnuts, coffee and whiskey. The “infinitely customizable” drinks menu allows you to pick a base spirit and then choose the modifiers and mixers, resulting in your own cocktail. One of his most popular creations, however, isn’t even on the menu; it’s a secret-menu selection called the Superhero. And, of course, it starts with coffee, specifically a fat-heavy mix called bulletproof coffee, a favorite of the paleo community.
“This is a trend,” Spicer says of the mix of coffee, butter and coconut oil. “It’s not really big in Denver yet. It wakes up your brain if you’re one of those people that doesn’t eat breakfast. But it’s good for your body, too. The coconut oil gives you those omega-3 fatty acids, and the butter attaches to the caffeine molecule. There’s no peak or crash, just a consistent six-hour high of caffeine.”
To make Carbon's bulletproof coffee, Spicer drops butter and coconut oil into a blender with two cups of hot water, adding two freshly pulled shots of espresso and blending for twenty seconds to emulsify the ingredients. And that's the first half of the cocktail.
At the other end of the bar — the boozy end — Spicer preps a tall glass, adding a rim of ground coffee mixed with chunks of raw sugar. He pours whiskey and orange liqueur into the bottom of the glass and then fills it with the hot, frothy bulletproof coffee.
“Most superheroes are bulletproof,” Spicer explains, “but add some booze and you’re gonna feel invincible.”
Here's the recipe:
2 ounces espresso
2 cups hot water
2 ounces grass-fed cow’s milk butter
1 ounce coconut oil
1.5 ounces Rittenhouse 100-proof bonded rye whiskey
1 ounce Royal Combier Grande Liqueur
Method: Combine butter, coconut oil and hot water in a blender. Add espresso and blend for 20 seconds. Rim a tall glass with a coffee/raw sugar mixture and pour in the rye and Royal Combier. Fill the glass to the rim with the contents of the blender. Garnish with an orange wedge.
Spicer tried a few different whiskeys but thought that Rittenhouse rye worked best. It’s aged in barrels for four years and is the product of a single distillery, made in a single season, in a single year. “It’s got strength,” he notes. “It just gave it that well-balanced flavor.”
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For a touch of citrus acidity, he chose the Royal Combier, made in France since 1860. It contains the flavor of oranges, but also aloe, nutmeg, myrrh, cardamom, cinnamon and saffron. “It felt more real,” Spicer says, comparing it to other orange liqueurs. “You can taste the oranges, instead of a fake orange flavor.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this anywhere else,” Spicer says. "It takes both of the sides of this concept and kind of melds them together. That’s why it’s so cool.”
Price: $9, $6 at happy hour (daily from 3 to 6 p.m.).
Food Pairing: The Green Goddess BLT, with Tender Belly bacon, tomato, butter lettuce and Green Goddess dressing, on whole wheat bread. “The flavors are simple and straightforward,” Spicer says. “The citrus undertones in the Superhero would really round out the meal.”