A Bartender’s Riff with Ben Agnini of Washington Dining & Cocktails, Bend, OR | 2.2.18
Introducing the latest installment in our “A Bartender's Riff” video series— produced right here in our hometown of Bend, Oregon.
At Riff, collaboration is embedded in our DNA. We’re starting out with cocktails, but who knows where we’re headed next as we expand our “A _______’s Riff” video
series to include artisans, chefs, bakers, artists… (you fill in the blank). We start with the question: “what if?” Which leads to fun, exciting,
and unpredictable, new takes on the familiar. Each project uniquely expressive of our collaborator’s unique personality and style.
“El Chapo” is a craft cocktail recipe created by “The Duke of Distillates,” Ben Agnini, bartender at Washington. This cold brewed coffee drink is a straightforward
reposado cocktail that takes hints of classic flavors, then adds its own twist and shake.
• 3/4 oz Riff Decaf Concentrate
• 1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
• 2 oz Tequila Reposado
• 3 Dashes of Aztec Chocolate Bitters
• Shake over ice w/orange peel
The Coldpresso Martini marks the second edition of our A ________________ 's Riff Video Series, where we celebrate collaborations with artisans,
bartenders, chefs, bakers, artists… (you fill in the blank). We ask them “What if?”, “What if we threw some cold brewed coffee in there?”, “What
if it was simmered, frozen, or reduced?” These masters of creativity have responded—each in their own unique personality and style—with
exciting new takes on the familiar.
The Coldpresso Martini is a take on the original Espresso Martini, created by “The Cocktail King,” Dick Bradsell. Mr. Bradsell was simply following a patron’s
request to combine her two favorite buzzes.
The Coldpresso was created by our friends at Urban Farmer at The Nines Hotel in Portland, Oregon. We’ve included the full recipe and video below where “The Sultan of Sauce,” Josue Moreno (Senior restaurant manager) demonstrates how to make this Riff-inspired cocktail on your own. (Note: The Coldpresso is made with decaffeinated cold brewed coffee to leverage the flavor without the caffeine.)
• 1½ oz Bull Run Distilling “Medoyeff Vodka” (Portland, OR)
• ½ oz Amarula cream liqueur
• 1/4 oz Half and Half
• 1 barspoon of vanilla syrup
• 1 oz Riff Cold Brewed Decaf Coffee Concentrate
• Shake in a cocktail shaker and then strain into cocktail coupe or martini shell.
The kick-off for our “A ________’s Riff” series, where we collaborate with artisans, bartenders, chefs, bakers, artists—you name it, and ask them:
What if? What if cold brewed coffee was used in cocktails? What if it was the base for a steak glaze, wait! A donut glaze. Whether it’s being poured,
frozen, mixed, baked, or consumed, we will let you know how it all went down.
Our first collaboration, “The Cold Fashioned,” a cold brewed coffee cocktail recipe, was created by our friend Josue “Sway” Moreno (Senior Restaurant Manager
at Urban Farmer at The Nines Hotel in Portland, Oregon). A cold brewed twist on a classic cocktail, the Old Fashioned. Sway, knows a thing or two about
questioning convention—watch below to see why he has the title “The Sultan of Sauce.”
• 2 oz of James Oliver Rye
• 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
• 2 dashes of Orange Bitters
• ¼ oz of Riff Cold Brewed Coffee Syrup
• Stir in a mixing glass and pour over a large cube of ice. Orange peel garnish.
• Combine in a saucepan 2 parts sugar, 2 parts water.
• Bring to a simmer and stir till the sugar is dissolved.
• Add 1 part Riff Cold Brewed Decaf Concentrate.
• Stir and refrigerate to cool.
When Paul Evers drank his first cold brew coffee, he said it was a revelation on par with his first craft beer. It was an experience he remembers vividly in detail — a single-origin cold brew from Stumptown, which immediately struck him with an aroma of what he described as “freeze-dried blueberries.” The scent matched the flavor, and on that first sip he was immediately overwhelmed by the same wonder and excitement of the day he drank his first porter.
“I think for many of us, our experience with coffee is like our experience with beer back in the 1980’s,” he said.
And Evers would know. He co-founded experimental craft brewery Crux Fermentation Project in 2011. But toward the end of 2016, Evers was winding down from his day-to-day at the brewery and became increasingly passionate about coffee. Now, as CEO, he and a team of coffee industry and brand building veterans have brought the same experimental, craft mindset to a new venture: Riff Cold Brewed, an Oregon-based startup set to launch in retail in March.
In addition to Evers, the founding team includes former Stumptown cold brew product developer Nate Armbrust, former LinkedIn director Steve Barham, marketing consultant Kevin Smyth, and Evers’ son Bobby, who previously worked with his father at Crux and craft branding agency Crunchy Peanut Butter.
“When we first met in a room with a whiteboard, we didn’t talk about product, we didn’t talk about our plan to scale, or gross revenues or anything like that,” Evers said. “What we talked about was what cultural values we seek to establish. We all brainstormed on a board and some of those values really have to do with an egalitarian approach to culture. We wanted to make sure this company had fun and enjoyed what we were doing, that we were always in pursuit of innovation and creativity, that we would put values above profits.”
Evers began the project in December of 2016, and by July he had gotten his founding team and begun working on developing the vision.
Bringing in Armbrust was key to that following through on that cultural mindset, Evers said. Having joined Stumptown in 2013, Armbrust was a crucial component of the coffee roaster’s early cold brew strategy, working on innovative products such as their nitro, dairy, and sparkling coffees.
“Cold brew as a category is still at the beginning,” Armbrust told BevNET. “We’ve done a lot but there’s still much more to do.”
For former Stumptown Coffee Roasters food scientist Nate Armbrust, the question, “Why start a cold brew company now?” has an obvious answer.
“I love all coffee cold brewed,” said Armbrust, who a few weeks ago officially launched Riff Cold Brewed in Bend, Oregon, with several business partners. “It’s a great expression of a lot of different coffees. But it’s interesting, you can’t buy the most expensive coffee and turn it into the best cold brew. Not all coffees translate well in the cold brew process.”
Armbrust’s goal with Riff Cold Brewed is to discover which coffees do translate best. Riff has already begun placing nitro coffee kegs in a few Oregon restaurants, including Urban Farmer and The Nines hotel in Portland, and Washington Dining & Cocktails in Bend.
Consumers may see Riff Cold Brewed cans in grocery stores by mid February and eventually and if all goes to plan, the product will be available in a cold brew-centric tap room, tentatively scheduled in Bend for Spring 2018.
“Cold brew as a category is still very young and figuring itself out,” said Armbrust. “High-end coffee companies that make cold brew have done well with the black coffee offering. But cold brew as an ingredient in other beverages — or other beverages as an ingredient in cold brew — we’re very young there.”
Armbrust spent most of the past five years working directly with cold brew at Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, first as a cold brew project manager, then as director of technical services for cold brew.
“I still love those coffees, but it’s been fun to try other profiles,” Armbrust told Daily Coffee News. “I love the chocolate and fruit and lower acidity and sweetness that comes along with the cold brew process.”
Plans for Riff include a 9,000-square-foot production facility and a 3,500-square-foot tap room, though not in the same building. The company has been sourcing coffee from existing roasters and making cold brew in-house to start. Eventually the company plans to also work with copackers.
A significant portion of Riff’s inventory will be dedicated to on-premise sales at cafés, bars and restaurants that want to pour cold brew on tap. Armbrust was an early proponent of coffee infused with nitrogen.
Urban Farmer, located on the 8th floor of The Nines Hotel in Portland, helped us celebrate our worldwide launch on Monday evening with custom concocted cold brewed coffee cocktails and small bites. 100 special guests joined in the celebration— including family, friends, investors, distributor and account representatives, and collaborators.
Custom concocted cocktails included:
Bourbon, bitters, simple syrup, lemon
Vodka, amarula, vanilla
Mezcal, 10 yr. tawny port, velvet falernum
Jeff Brown, GM of Food & Beverage Operations for Sage Hospitality Group (owner/operator of Urban Farmer and Departure), took the honors of cutting the ceremonial red ribbon to introduce our inaugural tap handle. "Our partnership with Riff allows us to create a rich coffee experience backed by a great story." Brown said. "Their product integrity and creativity aligns with our vision of creating places for people to go to, and not go through.”
With the launch,
Urban Farmer became our first
draft account. Stop by and enjoy some Riff when in the area! We'll keep you posted as we add more accounts in the near future.