Corretto, a new Italian-styled cafe, restaurant and bar in Seattle celebrated its grand opening last week, and Sprudge photo contributor Vickie Miao was on hand to capture the scene and check out a few of the new coffee & booze cocktails from Slate Coffee‘s Brandon Paul Weaver. A caffè corretto is a traditional Italian combination of espresso “corrected” with spirits, usually grappa (a grape-based brandy), some other form of brandy, or Sambuca. Corretto's bar program is focused on Italian spirits, and Mr. Weaver has put together a list of cocktails playing liberally with the corretto tradition.
Eater Seattle, Capitol Hill Seattle, and Seattle Met offer additional background on this new “neighborhood Italian” project from restaurateur Travis Rosenthal (Tango, Rumba) and chef Laura Licona (formerly of La Spiga). We talked to Mr. Weaver to learn more about the coffee side of things, the drinks they're offering and what drew him to the Corretto project.
Tell us about how you approached the coffee & booze offerings at Corretto.
We wanted to start with a fairly simple and straightforward menu–4 correttos–that all fit a different kind of person coming in. A couple of them have cream, and are super accessible–but it started with one, called the Il Futurismo, that's just Braulio amaro, espresso, and Bob's Bitters. Basically built like a Manhattan, but instead of rye whiskey, vermouth and bitters, its espresso, amaro and bitters, at similar ratios.
We've also got drinks like the Crema & Crema, which is Disaronno, Dimmi (a grape-style distillate, not grappa exactly but similar), heavy cream, and Angostura bitters on top, and a drink we call Liquid Biscotti, made with Faretti Biscotti liqueur, grappa, and cream. The idea there is to take Italian ingredients and make something fairly sweet and tasty. The cream on top is cold, and the espresso on the bottom is warm, so you get temperature play in there.
For the last one, the Divine Comedy, we got batshit crazy–it's Giffard Banane banana liqueur, espresso, and grappa shaken over ice. It's kinda like–there's probably some Italian grandfather rolling over in his grave with a cold banana corretto, but that's where we can see where we're going with this whole idea. Super accessible, traditional, and then wacky.
What about the coffee offerings?
I'm interested in having two different styles–maybe a straightforward Bolivian espresso and a wild Ethiopian. Two clearly different espresso we can use for different purposes, and a decaf as well. For daytime service we're batching Chemexes into an airpot. The coffees we're opening with are Finca Los Pinos, a Colombian from the Huila region–juicy and nice and acidic–and then Carmo Di Minas from Brazil, super rich & heavy, low acidity.
Tell us more about your your role in the project.
I am training the bartenders, will be directing the coffee program, and also eventually bartending. The training is happening through Slate–I got involved more heavily because it seemed in line with the things I want to do with Matte & Gloss. Philosophically this is where I want to go–how can these industries learn and benefit from each other?
So can someone come in and order a classic corretto?
A classic corretto is definitely available. We have 15 different grappas right now, and stuff's still coming in from places like Nonino. We also have a huge selection of amaros too, upwards of 20 at the moment. We want to do intentional pairings.
But in Italy, the corretto does not really have a classy reputation. You guys are sort of inverting that, right?
Grappa is the byproduct of wine-making. Espresso started out being the beverage of the everyman, too, and it's sort of like pushing that idea–instead of these crazy steam-infused 8oz quick espressos [like in early Italian espresso], we are at a point now where we can actually make it taste good and explore variety. We're trying to put correttos in that same light. Grappa is no longer just the shit people make from byproducts. It's not a thing about class anymore–people are making grappas taste pretty good.