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Patterson shakes up her favorite drink, a Caipirinha, which is the national drink of Brazil.

Old is new again

Coffee shop, bar drinks to trend of classic cocktails

Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Michael Woodruff and Jennifer Patterson serve drinks such as, from left, a Gin Fitzgerald, Spicy Scotsman, Caipirinha and Presidential Sazerac at Old Crown Coffee Roasters.

Gin Fitzgerald. Brandy Stinger. Moscow Mule.

Those kind of sound like nicknames from a 1960s baseball league.

But the three are classic cocktails, drinks that once were the height of sophistication but fell off the bar scene, replaced by Sex on the Beach and Long Island Iced Tea.

Except at a little coffee shop that sells booze at 3417 N. Anthony Blvd.

Or is that a little bar that roasts its own coffee?

Old Crown Coffee Roasters owners Michael Woodruff, 42, and Jennifer Patterson, 43, don’t really make the distinction, and that’s by design. The husband-wife team has owned Old Crown for more than a decade.

For the first chunk of its life, Old Crown was in the plaza across the street. Back then, it was simply a café, too close to Holy Cross Lutheran Church, which was right behind it, to possess a liquor license (state law dictates no liquor can be sold within 200 feet of a church, Woodruff says).

In part to accommodate for growth and in part to include a bar, Old Crown moved to its current home, where it has lived for nearly a year and a half.

Today, the business is small but not cramped. In the bar area, the stools are painted rainbow colors. Customers work on their laptops in the common area. Friends dine with each other at the small tables, speaking softly. In the corner are barrels of coffee, roasted by Old Crown.

And at most tables is a bar list, full of those classic cocktails you may have never heard of.

Luckily, the baristas at Old Crown are trained in more than coffee – they can mostly rattle off what’s in each of these unfamiliar beverages. That requirement makes hiring a little more difficult than at most bars or coffeehouses, and Patterson calls staffing the hardest part about owning the business.

“You need to find people who can do both and do them with excellent customer service skills, as well as excellent technique,” she says.

Take the Ramos Fizz, a drink with egg whites. As Esquire magazine says about the drink: “It’s fussy, dated, takes a long time to make and uses too many ingredients.”

Part of the drink’s fussiness? It needs to be mixed in the right order and with the right amount of agitation, Woodruff says. It can actually take five minutes to make.

But oh, is it worth it: delicious, creamy, not too sweet and with just the right hint of alcohol.

A friend and I recently split three cocktails that I had never heard of so we could try them all. We both could have drunk buckets of the Ramos Fizz. The Dreamsicle, made with rum, tasted too much of alcohol for my taste. The Brandy Alexander was yummy and tasted like chocolate milk.

Classic cocktails started becoming more in vogue about three or four years ago, Woodruff says, and the menu – with also features modern spins on the classics, plus a few original creations – is popular among customers. The most popular are the sours, Old Fashioneds, martinis and the Dark & Stormy.

Patterson calls the Caipirinha her favorite drink. Also the national drink of Brazil, the Caipirinha is a mixture of muddled lime, simple syrup and cachaça, a sugar-cane rum.

But, don’t forget, this bar serves coffee, too.

Mike Shook of Fort Wayne goes through about a pound of Old Crown’s roast a week, he says. The variety and flavor of the coffee bean is what keeps Shook hooked.

“They roast it right there, so you can get it just as fresh as you can possibly get it,” he says. “I really love the Ethiopian (and) African coffees. It’s hard to find elsewhere. It seems like the flavor’s fuller.”

To honor his love of coffee, Shook recently got a tattoo of a French press and a coffee bag. The tattoo artist knew Shook got his coffee from Old Crown, Shook says, so the artist designed a crown on the coffee bag.

“And I’m like, well there you go. That worked for me,” Shook says.

Patterson and Woodruff were willing to share a few cocktail recipes, but beware: They may not taste exactly like the drinks as they are prepared at Old Crown, which makes many of its cocktail ingredients in-house – simple syrup, maraschino cherries, hand-squeezed lemon and lime juices – and uses premium booze, as shown in the recipes.

Blood & Sand

3/4 ounce Benromach Traditional Speyside Scotch

3/4 ounce Cherry Heering Liqueur

3/4 ounce Quady Sweet Vermouth

1 ounce orange juice

Shake ingredients. Serve without ice. Garnish with maraschino cherry.

The Governor’s Manhattan

2 1/2 ounces Governor’s Reserve Barrel Proof Bourbon

1/4 ounce Quady Sweet Vermouth

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir ingredients. Serve without ice, with a maraschino cherry garnish.

Presidential Sazerac

2 ounces Governor’s Reserve Barrel Proof Bourbon

1/2 ounce simple syrup

4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

1 splash Vieux Carré Absinthe

Rinse a rocks glass with the Absinthe. Add other ingredients. Stir and serve with a lemon twist.