Feel refreshed with all your #Austin360Drinks beverages

Even though Austinites are finally experiencing the burn of a 100-degree day — and so late into the summer, too — we’re staying cool by drinking up, sipping on everything from cold-brew coffee to beer to margaritas, and we’re also, of course, documenting each one on Instagram.

The Statesman’s social media campaign #Austin360Drinks has been asking readers to tag their photos with that hashtag for the past few months now. A Storify has been rounding them all up. And starting today, some of those tagged photos will also be featured here on the blog in a bi-monthly post that just might give you some ideas about what to drink next, alcoholic or not.

Summers in Austin always mean one tropical tradition returns in local bars: Tiki Tuesdays. At No Va on Rainey Street (@novaonrainey), that means the Mitsubishi Flyby, made with dark rum and other island ingredients, is on special.

The Infinite Monkey Theorem is a Colorado-based winery gearing up to open an Austin location off South Congress very soon, but in the meantime, Amy Drohen (@sushigirl_atx) recommends looking for their bottles and cans of wine (and this new dry-hopped pear cider) in local bars and stores.

Getting through the work week can be tough, but it’s just a little easier to swallow when you have the right cup of coffee. For Ane Urquiola Lowe (@thehungrychronicles), that perfect cup comes with cinnamon sprinkled on top.

One of Austin’s newest bars, the Townsend, hasn’t been opened for very long, but Matt McGinnis (@mcginnisatx) can already recommend the Lamplight, with bourbon, Drambuie, lemon and Chinese 5-spice.

Hops & Grain’s old small-batch Greenhouse series of beers is now the Dispensary series, and it focuses more on hop-forward styles like this Double IPA that Chris Sheppard (@crafttaste) tried in the taproom.

New Austin-based coffee liqueur, Caffe del Fuego, to hit market soon

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.

Caffe del Fuego is an Austin-made coffee liqueur coming to local markets later this month.
Caffe del Fuego is an Austin-made coffee liqueur coming to local markets later this month.

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.

Fuego Julep

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

SXSW 2015: Panel explores coffee’s growth through technology

Date/time: 11 a.m. Sunday

A SouthBites panel during the Interactive portion of South by Southwest explored artisan coffee's growth during (and as a result of) the digital age.
A SouthBites panel during the Interactive portion of South by Southwest explored artisan coffee’s growth during (and as a result of) the digital age.

Panelists: Cameron Hughes, CEO/ founder of Invergo Coffee; Erin Meister, coffee educator at Counter Culture Coffee; and Lawrence Marcus, senior digital editor of Food & Wine

The gist: Thanks to the Internet and high-tech machines that both allow us to make our own cups of joe each morning and help coffee bean producers around the world speed up and better the production process, coffee has achieved the same sort of artisan status as, say, craft beer — people are realizing that the caffeinated beverage is “much more than just pouring water into a machine,” Marcus said, noting that specific parameters like the temperature of the water, the amount of beans added and other factors contribute to the ultimate steaming beverage poured into your favorite mug each morning.

Now that people are paying attention to those parameters, good coffee is on the rise both at home and in coffee shops, the panelists said, though Meister said she doesn’t think top-quality coffee will become the rule, rather than the exception, in the future. “People know what good hamburgers taste like, but they still eat McDonald’s,” she said.

But she and Hughes were ready to give the packed audience tips on how to make their coffee at home just as tasty as what they might enjoy from their favorite local barista. She emphasized being willing to “adjust your parameters… People can be like pit bulls when it comes to their coffee brewing methods.”

The takeaway: The rise of the Internet is largely parallel to the rise of artisan coffee. Myriad forums exist for total strangers to swap coffee roasting and brewing techniques, and websites from coffee bean purveyors provide access to these beans from anywhere in the world. Plus, coffee farmers, Meister said, can find new customers who are willing to pay a lot for their coffee.

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I was fascinated by the talk, especially when it veered toward the similarities between coffee and beer (which both took off as craft beverages around the same time). “The beer analogy is so apt because people thought beer could only taste like Budweiser for a long time,” Marcus said. “People similarly think their coffee is too bitter to drink black, so they add milk and sugar.”

Although there’s nothing inherently wrong with the pairing of these sweeteners with coffee, Marcus said, it’s not only masking the taste of overly bitter coffee but the fact that good coffee, extracted just right from the beans, shouldn’t need the sweeteners at all.

Over-extracted beans taste very bitter, under-extracted beans sour, Meister said, while a proper extraction gives an element of sweetness to the coffee.

“It’s a human problem, not a technology problem,” she said. “We have to know what good coffee tastes like.”

The hashtag: #southbites