In a multi-use warehouse on the fringes of Chinatown, Jerry DeFazio is experimenting with a patent-pending process that he says will improve your morning cup of coffee and your evening whiskey, simultaneously. In fact, DeFazio aims to blur the distinction between beverages made for daytime and those made for nighttime consumption.
The idea is simple, but DeFazio says he's figured out a way to naturally infuse the two classic drinks together in a way that will revolutionize so-called Irish coffee, the coffee and whiskey cocktail that Tom Bergin's Tavern claims to have made famous in L.A. The result is Fliquor Bean, a D.I.Y. whiskey concoction that's being marketed on social media as the perfect elixir for day-drinking on the go.
On Fliquor Bean's Twitter account, the drink is advertised as a "magical hangover cure" that's "great for writer's block" and "is best enjoyed at the start, middle, and end of your day/night." And best of all, "you don't have to wait until 5 to drink it," according to Fliquor Bean's Twitter.
No wonder DeFazio's trying to patent this mysterious cure-all potion that purports to do just about everything except end world hunger. The curious beverage even comes individually packaged in mason jars with hand-made labels. Still not charmed by Fliquor Bean? DeFazio will deliver it to you on a bike if you're in the Los Angeles area.
All of this sounds pretty great, except that DeFazio doesn't have the funds to actually get Fliquor Bean off the ground and into whiskey glasses everywhere. The New York native is an out-of-work camera operator who moved to L.A. from Texas seeking work in television, but he admits that "L.A. has not been very kind when it comes to work." While he's never been a barista or a bartender, he started tinkering with drink-making several months ago, threw out some ideas to his barista friends, and saw that there was a market for coffee-infused whiskey.
"I'm just doing this for fun and it's gotten off the ground and it's been very bizarre," says DeFazio, who's in between living situations but spends a good chunk of his time making Fliquor Bean at his buddies' warehouse near Main and Alameda Streets. After all, he says it takes about 12-14 hours just to make one cup of the caffeinated stuff, which sells for about $20 per half-pint. While he won't spill the beans, as it were, about his top-secret process, which he says is actually rather simple, it appears to involve a "drip by drip" system, according to a photo and caption he recently tweeted.
The alcoholic mixture, which is served over ice with cream and sugar, is currently only available at private events because Fliquor Bean lacks a liquor license. In fact, DeFazio's completely avoided what he calls the "headache" of attaining a liquor license by guest bartending with Fliquor Bean at house shows, warehouse parties, art galleries and spaces that have their own liquor licenses. Fliquor Bean is best sipped, he says, somewhere where you can "talk to people and enjoy some art and maybe music. It's not something that you just stand around and drink."
While other caffeinated-alcoholic beverages like Four Loko and Sparks have been banned and/or sued over health concerns, DeFazio says Fliquor Bean is entirely different because the caffeine comes from a natural process. "Those companies were using concentrated caffeine, trying to make something that tastes like juice and selling it to little kids," he says. "I'm going after a completely different market," which he says is for older, more mature drinkers, who not only appreciate the taste of coffee but also aren't opposed to the idea of day-drinking, which Fliquor Bean practically seems to encourage.
"I'm trying to patent the process because I think that craft alcohol and craft spirits are going to be the next craft beer," he says, citing the popularity of Craft Spirits Carnival in San Francisco and Midnight Moon moonshine company in North Carolina. "Bourbon's been around since the late 1800s and no one's done anything with it. So I'm trying to come up with another way [to flavor it], and with coffee and whiskey alone, there are just endless things that I could do with it."
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DeFazio dreams of someday selling Fliquor Bean to bars and liquor stores, but until then, you'll have to set up a private tasting or book DeFazio for your next (fully-licensed) event if you'd like to taste his mysterious drink, which he says tastes like coffee but still has the bite of whiskey. Sounds dangerous, doesn't it?
If you'd like to track down your own jar of Fliquor Bean, email email@example.com.