By Charles Passy
Mr Black Mezcal Cask Coffee Liqueur, $59.99
The back story
When it comes to coffee liqueurs, there’s been one brand that’s long dominated — namely, Kahlúa. But there have also been a few noteworthy new arrivals in the category, with the Australian-produced Mr Black, which uses a cold-brew coffee as its base, arguably becoming the most prominent. Indeed, so prominent that the brand was just acquired by spirits giant Diageo /zigman2/quotes/205611832/delayed UK:DGE -0.21% .
But Mr Black isn’t resting on its laurels. The nearly decade-old brand recently rolled out a special-edition version of Mr Black with a twist of sorts: The liqueur gets an added boost of flavor from mezcal, the smoky Mexican spirit that’s surged in popularity of late. (Even financial guru Jim Cramer has his own mezcal brand .)
The story goes that brand co-founder Tom Baker got the idea from when he came upon a bar in New York City that served a drink pairing Mr Black with mezcal — specifically, from the Ilégal brand. “I got hooked on the combination,” he explains.
To make his own version, Baker and his team rested the standard Mr Black in oak barrels that previously were used to age Ilégal mezcal. Plus, they added more mezcal to the final product to “bring aromatic agave notes to the blend,” as Baker explains.
What we think about it
I’ve always been a fan of Mr Black, particularly because it has an honest java flavor and limits the sweetness that you typically find in other coffee liqueurs — in short, it truly tastes like a good cup of cold brew. The mezcal-cask version does offer the addition of subtle hints of smokiness and spice. If you’re expecting a mouthful of mezcal, you may be disappointed. But if you’re looking for a coffee liqueur with a little kick of mezcal, you’ll probably like it.
How to enjoy it
Baker says he likes the mezcal-enhanced Mr Black over ice. He also suggests using it as the base for an espresso martini.