I met my friend Judith for a post-birthday drink at Huber’s in downtown Portland. Huber’s is one of the oldest bars in the city (established in 1879) and it’s famous for two things. First, they offer Thanksgiving dinner every day of the year. Yes. Every day. So when you have a hankering for turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing in July this is the place to fill the need. Second, their Spanish Coffee is legendary.
Spanish coffee is very much a Portland thing. There may be drinks called a Spanish coffee elsewhere in the world, but the one in Portland is specific. It’s made with 151 rum, Kahlua, triple sec (or Gran Marinier), hot coffee, and whipped cream in a sugar-rimmed glass. And it’s topped with cinnamon and nutmeg. You can get one anywhere in Portland, but if you travel out of Portland–not that far really–they don’t exist.
There is a technique to making them. You dip the rim in sugar and pour in the 151. Then you light the rum on fire and swirl the glass. The heat of the fire turns the sugared rim into a glaze. Then you pour in the Kahlua and tiple sec, and finally the coffee. Maybe you sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg on there too, which sparks in the flame.
At Huber’s it’s high art, with loooooong pours, accurately aimed by super experienced bartenders.
I don’t drink anymore. But Judith was good enough to order one so we could see the show.