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.
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).
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