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What's in a Spanish Coffee, anyway?

Adam Campbell-Schmitt
May 23, 2018
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If Portland's thriving food and drink scene didn't already put it on the map, certainly the IFC series Portlandia—a sketch comedy show about a hyper-fictionalized version of the city—did. With that lens squarely on the City of Roses, it's become not only a go-to travel destination but also been better defined itself from urban areas with its own unique identity. On last night's Late Night with Seth Meyers (which, coincidentally employs Portlandia star Fred Armisen as band leader), Portland-dwelling master mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler stopped by to show Meyers how to make one defining characteristic of the city's bar scene: Its official cocktail, Spanish Coffee.

In the clip, Morgenthaler, bar manager at Portland's Clyde Common and Pepe Le Moko as well as the co-author of Drinking Distilled: A User's Manual, gets right to the action and takes Meyers through the process of making the drink which originated at Portland's oldest restaurant, Huber's. They start by rimming the glass with lime and sugar, then pouring in a healthy tip of 151 proof rum and some Triple Sec before lighting it on fire. Yes, this is a pyrotechnic cocktail. Morgenthaler shows Meyers the technique for turning the glass while holding it at an angle, which creates a towering flame (well, towering by cocktail glass standards). The flame caramelizes the sugar rim, while a dash of nutmeg added in adds to the firey flare. Morgenthaler then adds Kahlua and douses the flame before pouring in French-pressed coffee and floating whipped cream on top.

If seeing this only has you thirsty for more of Morgenthaler's cocktails, check out some of his aged renditions of classics like the Negroni, the white Manhattan, the Martini, and El Presidente, and read up on more of his cocktail-making tips. There's also an iced version of Spanish Coffee for your summer sipping pleasure.

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