Made in Tribeca: The Morning Dram
This was one of those pandemic discoveries — the product of boredom, desperation and this case, invention and skill. Tommy and Davi Tardie were home in Fidi talking about what they would do now that Tommy’s two restaurants were shuttered, looking for a good project.
“We were going down the path of ‘what-ifs,'” Tommy said, and taking stock of what they had going for them — a top-rated whiskey bar called The Flatiron Room, for one. “I am a big believer in doing something that you have a passion for. That is what makes a good business.”
All these discussions were taking place over many cups of coffee, and that’s when it started to click. Coffee, whiskey. Coffee plus whiskey. Coffee + whiskey = The Morning Dram.
Then the research started. They weren’t the first ones to infuse coffee beans with spirits, but they wanted to figure out how to do it best. They settled on using unroasted green beans, when they are most susceptible to flavor. Then at the ‘lab,’ an empty Flatiron Room, they emptied out a 10-gallon spirits barrel, leaving it wet. The green beans spent weeks in the barrel, getting rotated once in a while so they could fully absorb the essence of the spirit.
Then they bought a test roaster and the real work began.
“I really savor it,” Tommy said of the brew. There is no alcohol in the beans — just added flavor. “I look for all the flavor notes.”
“It’s all subjective, but the flavor profile we were looking for was a perfect balance,” said Davi. “That was our goal. It had to be all natural, it had to be high quality, and it had to taste good black.”
To start production, they found a family-owned roaster who would do small batches, which they they gave out to family and friends to test the market. “We had some pats on the back,” said Tommy, “but I needed more proof.”
So they sent out the next batches to folks they knew in the spirits industry. They asked for honest feedback and what they got in return was a huge marketing win, with endorsements from some of the best palates in the world. They launched at the start of the year with four varieties: three barrel-aged coffees (bourbon, rye, and sherry) and one house blend (not aged in a barrel – just good beans). There’s also a very cute starter kit with a portable grinder and mug.
The backstory on these two: Davi has worked for the NYC parents blog Mommy Poppins for 14 years; Tommy was a creative director on Madison Avenue until he busted out and opened The Flatiron Room 10 years ago and Fine & Rare in 2016. (They raised their two sons on Chambers Street first, and moved to Fidi four years ago.) The idea was to create a cool-minded supper club that incorporated a robust whiskey menu. They now have 1500 bottles at the bar, an education program and are known as an international destination for whiskey. They regularly take members of their staff on tasting trips across the world from Mexico to Scotland and as a result, their bartenders are more expert than most.
“It just tastes better when you know more about it,” Tommy says.
And it seems they would apply that same motto to their morning brew. The project, Davi said, was a great distraction during the darkest days of the pandemic and also a lot of fun. But even though they both always loved coffee — maybe more than whiskey even — they didn’t appreciate it the same way. This changed all that. “Coffee,” said Tommy, “is not just coffee.”