Convenience store shelves are already stocked with hard iced tea, hard soda and hard seltzer … so perhaps it was only a matter of time before hard coffee was born.
Enter Bad Larry’s, the first brand of prepackaged, boozy cold-brew coffee in the States. The team behind it includes owner “Bad” Larry Abernathy; Matt McGinn, founder of Blackeye Roasting Co., who is the coffee source and formulation consultant; and Matty O’Reilly, a co-inventor/spokesman/consultant on the project who also owns Minneapolis-area bars and restaurants including Republic, Red River Kitchen, City House and the coming-soon Bar Brigade.
“Matt and I were talking about cold-press coffee one day and just sort of said ‘We should do an alcoholic version of cold press.’ So we Googled it and there was nobody in the country doing it,” says O’Reilly. “In the last five years, cold press is just cranking and the flavored malt beverage category is just cranking; everything’s taking off. I’m intuitive enough to know if something is sort of missing. I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been done before.”
O’Reilly says Bad Larry’s will hit shelves in Minnesota beginning in May, with an eye toward larger distribution; it will be contract-produced and packaged in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The beverage clocks in at 6% ABV and contains 180 mg of caffeine (for comparison, a tall Starbucks Pike Place coffee contains 235 mg of caffeine). It’s made with Blackeye cold-press coffee and cane sugar that’s “blended with malt” (O’Reilly declined to elaborate on the process further) and lightly carbonated with a blend of gases, including nitrogen for a smooth texture.
“I can see people drinking this with brunch or lunch, when you want a coffee but you also want a beer or wine or something,” O’Reilly says. “And I really see this opportunity to replace a vodka-Red Bull at 9 p.m.”