Quick Brown Fox Launch, Friday July 6th
Given the passion of certain Wellingtonistas for all things coffee, and the obsession of others for cocktails, it was never going to be hard to tempt us to the launch of a new artisan coffee liqueur. Add a label featuring an anthropomorphised fox inspired by the Wildean dandy Lord Henry Wotton, and throw the party at one of our regular enabling holes, and it’s no surprise that we were scrabbling over the few invitations on offer.
Made by a former Wellingtonian in Dunedin with what sounds like an obsessive attention to roasting detail, Quick Brown Fox is definitely not the sweet brown gloop that most of us associate with coffee liqueurs. It really does taste like mildly sweetened good coffee, with a subtle cinnamon tinge that adds complexity rather than dominating. It’s enjoyable straight, but some of us had our first introduction to it at Hooch via the Foxy Manhattan, where its pleasant bitterness beautifully complements the classic Manhattan flavours.
A few of the more dedicated Wellingtonistas had also spent some time at the bar assisting Jenny with the development of the cocktail that became the “Little Fennecs”. You know, for science.
The Little Fennecs is a cousin of the Old Fashioned, with raisins muddled in QBF instead of sugar syrup, and Jenny’s original recipe used cognac as the base spirit. Unfortunately, the strong flavours of the Quick Brown Fox and the orange zest swamped it. The Wellingtonista’s dedicated team of cocktail experts nobly worked their way through a shelf and a half of spirits looking for something that could stand up to the QBF before someone had the brilliant idea of trying spiced rum. We heartily recommend that you get down to Hooch and try the result. It’s really quite something. The kick of the rum mixes well with the coffee flavours and creates a pleasant sipping cocktail that successfully avoids the sweet, innocuous oh-no-I’ve-had-how-many quaffability that you often find with Old Fashioned variations.
As well as the above, the list at the launch featured the Flying Fox, which surprisingly combined the coffee liqueur with apricot brandy, basil, grapefruit and ginger beer. It was as refreshing as the summery ingredients would suggest, and while there was no real coffee flavour, the Quick Brown Fox combined with the ginger and apricot to produce an appealing biscuity, if not buttery, base. The fourth cocktail on the list, the White Velvet, was rather too creamy and vanilla for our tastes (though there are rumours that some of us may have messily experimented with QBF in combination with Kraken rum and chocolate chilli ice cream, but if the cocktail police ask, it never happened, right?)
But behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic. Call us spoiled brats if you will, and we’re probably the first to acknowledge that yes, we are, but if a beautifully designed invitation says “join us for drinks, nibbles and cocktails”, we’re going to show up imagining that those drinks, nibbles and cocktails will be provided for free, as part of the hospitality. It was something of an unpleasant surprise, then, to find a cocktail list which told us the price of everything and the value of nothing, and with no sign of the promised nibbles (or, in fact, anyone not either a Wellingtonista or a friend-of-the-Wellingtonista) until well into the event. The launch was pleasant enough in the end, and Quick Brown Fox has found its way into many of our new favourite cocktails, but the overpromising left a touch of bitterness that can’t be put down to the coffee.
Photos by our own Greg Bodnar.