Horn & Hardart, the legendary company that revolutionized the coffee business in the U.S., has introduced a new line of alcohol-infused coffee that utilizes distilled craft spirits in an innovative way. The first blend in H&H’s Prohibition Series is a limited-release, small batch, super premium, handmade line of whole bean coffee that has been aged in used Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey barrels.
“We set out to make a product that is ideal for coffee lovers who also love whiskey,” said H&H President Al Mazzone. “Our #18 Prohibition Series has been infused with Pennsylvania’s premier rye whiskey. Dad’s Hat Rye gave us one of their recently drained oak whiskey barrels, and we used a blend of 75% Horn & Hardart Liberty Roast whole bean and 25% espresso whole bean, and transformed it in the airtight spent barrel for 21 days,” explained Mazzone. “We literally babysat this product, rotating the barrel twice daily. What evolved was a coffee with notes of rich dark chocolate, cherry and berry and a hint of whiskey,” he said. “The challenge was to take high-quality whiskey and coffee and combine them in a way that complemented and did not damage either one. That’s why we used roasted, not green beans. Roasted beans absorb the flavor faster, so you’ll get a more consistent blend. Coffee drinkers will love the refined taste, with subtle aromas and textures; there’s nothing quite like it on the market,” he said.
The inspiration for the name harkens back to a time, the Prohibition and Depression eras, when H&H coffee thrived and fueled Americans. #18 refers to the amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which established the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the United States in 1920. “As caretakers of an iconic brand, we wanted to connect to that era in American history and also capitalize on the current popularity of craft spirits, of which one of the best happens to reside in our backyard,” said Mazzone. Just as H&H is synonymous with American innovation, Dad’s Hat’s mission of renewing the proud tradition of fine Pennsylvania rye whiskey follows over 200 years of American distilling tradition. Their classic rye features only rye grain and malt barrel-aged for at least six months in charred, new oak quarter casks, which allows the genuine rye flavor to evolve quickly. The final product is a smooth spirit that delivers the up-front spice that rye is known for while finishing with a full, round mouthfeel.
Horn & Hardart’s #18 Prohibition Series is priced at $24 per 10 oz. bag. “It’s a premium price because of the amount of tender loving care that went into creating this handmade blend that is only produced in 100-bag extensions. The process involved a long round of testing to find the right amount of aging to make the perfect coffee,” noted Mazzone. The second product in the line, which will incorporate New Jersey’s Cooper River Distillery’s Petty’s Island Rum, will debut around Christmas.