A Coffee and a Bourbon: Drinks with Dex

By Lisa Elbert

By

Lisa Elbert
Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer leading a workshop on the art of coffee harmonization at ICC 2015
Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer leading a workshop on the art of coffee harmonization at ICC 2015

“I'm gonna do something a little crazy today,” said Dex. No surprise there. “I'm gonna break some rules.” No shit. There's never a dull moment with Dex.

Fred Dexheimer, Master Sommelier and rule-breaker extraordinaire kicked off Day 2 of the International Chefs Congress correctly: with coffee … and booze. Pairing different Nespresso blends with Valrhona chocolate, rosé, beer, and whiskey, Dex encouraged the art of coffee harmonization, and formalizing an education about coffeehow to taste it, run with it, open up guests' eyes, and increase check averages. “To me, this is an opportunity to be decadent and get a little boost. It's something you can blow people up with at the end of a meal. Not a lot of people do it, and it's a fun, authentic experience.”

Workshop attendees left with an elevated knowledge of coffee, and a serious buzz. And the fan favorite (and by fan, read Team StarChefs) was the bourbon pairing. 

“I invite you to taste the coffee. Are you ready for this?” he challenged, as he held up a shot of Nespresso's Ristretto Intenso—a daring, spinal tap-intense, bitter-to-the-end, Brazilian Robusta blend—next to a glass of Michter's Bourbon. Alright, Dex. Let's play.

“Taste the coffee. Taste it twice. Then the bourbon. Then go back to the coffee.”

Magic. Actual magic. The vanilla notes from the bourbon's oak-barrel aging complement the intense bitterness of the Ristretto Intenso. They play off of each other, and the interplay brings out a whole new flavor: yellow peach. We kid you not, it was like taking a bite out of a ripe, yellow peach.

“When the coffee and bourbon come together, there's a third element, and it's like, whoa, where did that come from? Isn't that a cool way to end a meal?”  Yes, Dex. It's fucking cool.

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