While the Espresso Martini was invented in the 1980s by legendary bartender Dick Bradsell, the game was changed in 2013 with the release of Mr Black, a cold brew coffee liqueur that can now be found on backbars across the globe. While invented in London, the cocktail took off in Australia, with one Aussie bartender, Clara Edmonds, commenting in 2016 that more than half the drinks she made at her bar were Espresso Martinis. It’s only right, then, that the country that loves Espresso Martinis so much would birth a coffee liqueur that’s a perfect complement to the iconic cocktail.
In the years following its release, the spirit has quickly become the preferred coffee liqueur among consumers and bartenders alike, and the brand has expanded to sell several variations on the original recipe. Now that you know the basics, read on for seven things you should know about Mr Black.
Mr Black’s founders knew coffee and alcohol were meant to be enjoyed together.
Mr Black was created by master distiller Philip Moore of Distillery Botanica and “designer-turned-coffee-snob” Tom Baker. The two made the perfect duo as they both shared the belief that when coffee is made correctly, it can be incredibly nuanced, exciting, and delicious. The two also agreed that drinking alcohol is heaps of fun, too — and that the two should be drunk together more often than they were at the time. The company also strives to take coffee from morning to night, with its central mission being for consumers to “take their love of coffee into their evening drinks.”
Mr Black actually contains caffeine.
Unlike many of its competitors, Mr Black is more than just a coffee-flavored liqueur; it actually contains real coffee. Made with specialty-grade, 100 percent arabica coffee beans sourced from Papua New Guinea, Colombia, and Kenya, every 1-ounce pour of the coffee liqueur contains about 25 to 40 percent of the caffeine found in a single shot of espresso.
Mr Black is all about letting the coffee shine.
Mr Black’s ingredient list is, as far as liqueurs go, incredibly short. Made with just coffee, water, Australian wheat vodka, and sugar, the recipe is intended to truly allow the flavor of coffee to shine. As coffee used in Mr Black is sourced from a variety of locations, each blend tastes slightly different from the last.
As stated by Baker, “We love the rich chocolate and cacao notes of medium and dark roast South American coffees paired with the lovely fruit and sherbert-like acid notes of East African coffees.” He explains that each coffee has its own unique story, and Mr Black uses each of these stories as the starting points when creating a new blend.
The company is committed to upholding ethical practices.
The brand works directly with the farmers, co-ops, and importers that supply their coffee, and at every stage of development, its founders strive to ensure that all workers are treated with respect. Prior to agreeing to work with any supplier, Mr Black requires each grower to sign onto Mr Black’s ethical sourcing policy, which warrants that all coffee used by Mr Black is “free from child or forced labor, harmful environmental practices, and that workers are paid a living wage.”
The Mr Black lineup includes four unique products.
In addition to the original Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur, coffee and spirits lovers alike can also try Mr Black Coffee Amaro, Special Editions Mr Black Mezcal Cask Coffee Liqueur, and Mr Black Rum Barrel Coffee Liqueur.
To make Mr Black Mezcal Cask Coffee Liqueur, Mr Black is aged for 12 weeks in mezcal casks previously used to age Ilegal Mezcal in Oaxaca, Mexico, after which a bit of Ilegal Mezcal is added to the recipe. A similar process is used for Mr Black’s Rum Barrel Coffee Liqueur, which is a collaboration with Bundaberg Rum. The spirit is aged for three months in ex-Bundaberg oak casks for a perfect marriage of rum and coffee.
Got a dietary restriction? You might still be able to drink Mr Black.
Each Mr Black variation is vegan, gluten-free, and certified kosher by the Kashrut Authority of Australia & New Zealand.
Mr Black hosts an annual Espresso Martini festival.
It just wouldn’t be right for a coffee liqueur to not become synonymous with this beloved coffee cocktail. The festival, hosted every year, is dedicated to celebrating coffee cocktails far and wide, of which the Espresso Martini is by far the most trendy. Originally held exclusively in Australia, the festival has spread to Melbourne, London, and a few cities across the U.S.