Whiskey lovers make a line of vintage coffee for soul lovers

As the owner and operator of two famous whiskey-focused restaurants in Manhattan, Tommy Tardy was too busy to take on side projects.

Then the epidemic struck. “Both places were temporarily closed, and I had a tremendous amount of time on my hands,” Tardy says. “I was looking for a side project and thought of pairing my love of whiskey with my other passion: coffee.”

Tardy spent more than a year researching and experimenting—and drinking lots and lots of coffee—with his wife Davy, and the two created The Morning Dram, a new line of old-fashioned coffee for spirits lovers.

“We start with coffee,” Tardy explains.

Coffee is rated 80+ on a 100-point scale by a certified coffee taster or by a licensed Q grader. “It was very important to have exceptional coffee beans,” he says.

The beans are then placed in barrels of spirits used, primarily whiskey, to bring out the natural flavors of the fine beans. “The point of putting the beans in a barrel is to improve the complementary flavors of the beans,” he says. “We didn’t want to hide the good taste of great coffee with alcohol.”

The beans remain in barrels for several months, but there is no specific time for aging. Humidity is monitored in the barrels, and sample roasting is carried out throughout the aging process. “Green beans react differently depending on how fresh the barrels are, the humidity in the warehouse, and how much the barrels are rotated,” Tardy says. “Ultimately, I work on pulling the pills when I think they’re ready.”

The coffee does not contain alcohol and no artificial flavors are added to it. “It’s just exceptional coffee with hints of the spirit that was previously in the barrel,” Tardy says. “From the moment you open the bag, you smell amazing coffee. It’s not a hit on the head; it’s delicate and delicious.”

The first few batches the duo made were tested by family and friends, but to get honest feedback, Tardie sent their product to some of his industry acquaintances — people with “some of the best tastes in the business.” Among them were Dr. Bill Lumsden of Glenmorangi, Richard Patterson of Dalmore, Dr. Rachel Barry of Glendronach, Wes Henderson of Angel’s Envy, Ralph Erinzo of Hudson Whiskey, Heather Greene of Milam & Greene, and whiskey author Clay Raisen. “Their reactions were unanimous – they loved it,” Tardy says. “That was the moment I realized I needed to bring it up to the public.”

The Morning Dram went on sale online and at two Tardie restaurants, The Flatiron Room and Fine & Rare. “We’ve recently partnered with a few distilleries who also sell in their gift shops, and some have already sent their own kegs to make their own keg coffee,” he says.

The most popular item in Morning Dram sold is the Starter Kit, $99, which includes one bag of barrel-aged bourbon, one bag of barrel-aged rye, one bag House Blend No. 1, stainless steel dripper, enamel camp cup and hand grinder . “It’s all you need to brew the perfect cup of coffee,” he says. Another popular item is the Coffee Combo Pack, $89, which includes three different vintages and house blends. They also sell subscription boxes and gift subscriptions which are growing in popularity.

“Soon, we will be launching a range of single-brand coffees, and I expect them to be very popular as well,” he says. “It’s very exciting to see it grow so fast.”

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