Pure Black Velvet Float: A Coffee Drink Inspired by History

The Workshop Kitchen

The inspiration for this drink is the “Black Velvet,” traditionally made by mixing equal parts stout and Champagne. Legend says it was invented in 1861 at The Brooks Club in London to mimic the black armband worn by mourners following the death of Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria. It became popular with English settlers in western Canada and the northwest American territories, especially in the Seattle region -- where I worked in the original Starbuck’s while in school and where I met my La Colombe business partner.

To create a good drink recipe, you need to understand how to work with complimentary as well as contrasting flavors. It took me a few tries to find the perfect combination, but I ended up with something I call “Pure Black Velvet,” a smooth amalgamation of 3 inherently bitter ingredients that work together to mellow each other out.

It’s this simple:
For each float, pour 1 part cold Pure Black to 2 parts cold Guinness into a chilled jumbo-sized glass. Then add a big scoop of dark chocolate gelato. Swirl and drink.

About the Author

Todd Carmichael, host of Dangerous Grounds, goes on expeditions around the world to source the very best coffee beans for his company, La Colombe Torrefaction.

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