A Kiss With a Fist at Bull Run Coffee

Sarah McGee / Heavy Table

Sarah McGee / Heavy Table

You’re at a coffee shop and see a drink on the menu called “A Kiss with a Fist” ($5). Intrigued, you keep reading: espresso, milk, agave nectar, and … Sriracha. You blurt out (or, being a well socialized Minnesotan, quietly think to yourself), “Rooster Sauce? And there’s cactus juice?” It’s just a quizzical interlude before you order something normal, like black coffee or a latte.

Then, after you’ve settled in to read something fun set somewhere warm, your confident caffeine dealer interrupts: “Just try it.” Before you can cock your head like an inquisitive terrier, he nods at a small cup, saying, “It’s A Kiss with a Fist. Drink it.” Assuming there’s no harm in it, you prep your fake smile and a banal comment —”It’s interesting, but not for me.”

But, after a swig, you learn: It is interesting. Hell, it’s good. The tang of the hot sauce melds seamlessly with the agave nectar — a thinner, slightly sweeter honey alternative. The drink has a rich, complex, unfamiliar flavor that could be a distant, funky relative of caramel. It’s not exactly spicy, but a bit of heat rises at the back of your palate, and you’re hooked.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The scenario might play out differently, but we’re guessing the intrigue will stick with anyone daring enough to quaff the Kiss. So we tracked down Gordon Bellaver, the mad genius who created “A Kiss with a Fist” while managing Bull Run (he’s since taken his talents to Handsome Coffee Roasters in Los Angeles). Always the gentleman, he gamely answered our queries:

THE HEAVY TABLE: How did you come up with the idea for the drink?

GORDON BELLAVER: I was playing around with different sweeteners and had some agave laying around the shop. I also had some Sriracha that I tend to put on almost everything. I liked the idea of combining sweet with spicy — a contrasting beverage — and decided to try the two together. Voila! With a lot of the specialty drinks I was trying to combine a “traditional” sweetener with something uncommon; for example, the Breakfast Latte was maple syrup (traditional) and a homemade bacon syrup (uncommon).

HT: Where did the name come from?

GB: There is a song by Florence and the Machine by that name. It seemed appropriate to offer something sweet (a kiss) with something spicy (a fist).

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

HT: Did you think Bull Run’s customers would come back for more?

GB: I was going for a “wow” factor. For those who know what Sriracha is, you could tell that they were shocked when the read that on a menu at a coffee shop. More often than not, their curiosity got the best of them … they’d try it and either be pleasantly surprised or learn from their mistake. We even had people upset by [how] our specialty drinks [are] seasonal, because they would come back for the drink only to be disappointed.

Kiss with a Fist has definitely achieved the “wow” quality Bellaver was after. The drink confuses your mouth in a surprisingly good way, delivers a jolt to your taste buds, and makes you feel adventurous. To us, that’s what separates a mere novelty from a truly special creation.

Bull Run Coffee Bar, 3346 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis 55408; 612.545.5972

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

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About the Author

Joshua Page

Joshua Page became fascinated with food as a young latchkey cook in Southern California. He developed a passion for eating out while working in “the industry” in college and procrastinating (and accruing debt) as a graduate student. Now a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, Joshua also loves to write— when it’s not about crime, law, and punishment, his musings are about Twin Cities eateries.

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  1. Letta 02/18/2013

    Bull Run’s quickly become my go-to; the atmosphere is so welcoming and the coffee is so good… plus there’s free wifi for the worker-bees out there. Since I’m self-employed, it makes for a perfect change of scenery, a chance to recharge with some kick-ass coffee and great company. Can’t recommend it highly enough (even if I’m going to stick with the homemade chai, a Gibralter, or a plain old latte… the kiss with a fist doesn’t quite sound up my alley… Rooster Sauce!).

  2. Letta 02/18/2013

    And then I spelled “Gibraltar” wrong.

  3. Chad 02/18/2013

    Wow, that’s sounds really interesting, I will be stopping by soon to check it out.