A long time ago (the 1990s, to be exact) two former bandmates, Nathan Ehrenfeld and Bryan Turcotte, after going to work for Slash Records, left to start a music production company called Beta Petrol.* In the years that followed, Beta Petrol—think of it like 'fuel for film'—has grown into a major player in the business, with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Portland (Oregon, not Maine); and if that were the end of the story, it’d be a nice story: But that’s really where this story begins.
You see, around the time that Nathan and Bryan were launching Beta Petrol, Bryan had begun cooking-up batches of coffee liqueur in his kitchen, that he would then pour into mason jars and give them out to friends and co-workers as gifts (birthdays, Chanukah, what have you). Also, around this time, Bryan married his girlfriend, Dayna; and, less than a year later, Nathan married his girlfriend, Tammy. Both couples moved to homes in the Hollywood Hills, with Dayna and Bryan moving to Laurel Canyon, and Tammy and Nathan moving to the Hollywood Dell.
Their respective families grew, and Beta Petrol grew; and all the while, Bryan continued to cook-up his coffee liqueur. Then, a few years ago, the two couples had a brainstorm (brought on by years of encouraging words from friends who’d been gifted a jar of the delicious elixir): We need to bottle this and sell it!
So, with Bryan focused on preparing the coffee liqueur, Black Hjerte Coffee Liqueur—a 100% California Corn vodka is distilled, then blended with ‘wicked strong’ coffee pressed from Peet’s Coffee beans, and locally-sourced sugars and spices—ready for mass production; Nathan took his passion for clear distilled spirits and began working on what would become White Hjerte Vodka. A variation of the vodka base distilled for the Black Hjerte Coffee Liqueur; White Hjerte Vodka is 80 proof, column-distilled, triple-filtered, and handmade in small batches from California Corn. [In case you were wondering, hjerte is the Danish word for heart, and the two are pronounced the same way.]
Since launching (in September 2018), Black Hjerte Coffee Liqueur has received several prestigious awards, including “Best in Class” at the 2019 Sunset International Spirits Competition (95/100), “Silver” at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, “Gold” at the 2020 New York International Spirits Competition, and “Gold” at the 2020 San Diego Spirits Festival (95/100). Meanwhile, in the short time since its December 2019 debut, White Hjerte Vodka has received “Double Gold” at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
To be perfectly honest, I’d never heard of corn vodka. I’d heard of potatoes, wheat, rice, and even grapes. But corn? I wasn’t quite sure what to think. And then I tasted it. Now, you might not know this about me, but I’m a bit of a snob and have long held that premium and ultra-premium spirits lead to a cleaner buzz and less (if any) hangover. So, you could’ve knocked me over with a feather when—after enjoying both the taste (think: vanilla, berries, with a cheery creamy palate, and a lightly peppery zest) and the way it went down (clean and smooth, leaving behind a pleasant warmth)—I learned that it sells for far less than I’d have thought. ** And, writing this after the fact, I can attest to not having any sort of a hangover, whatsoever, the next morning.
Now, this past Thanksgiving, I found myself in charge of dessert; so, I decided to serve frozen vanilla custard topped with Black Hjerte Coffee Liqueur and some whipped cream. As I was scooping the frozen custard into the four bowls, my stepmom asked if I could use some pumpkin pie in my dessert. Seeing as Starbucks has made billions of dollars from the pairing of pumpkin spice and coffee, I figured “Why not?” and proceeded to drop a slice of pumpkin pie in each bowl, right on top. It certainly wasn’t going to win any awards for presentation, but lemme tell you: It was friggin’ delicious!!
Black Hjerte Coffee Liqueur | White Hjerte Vodka
Laurel Canyon Spirits
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Get into it!
[Editor’s Notes: * Beta Petrol’s services in the fields of Supervision & Licensing, Original Music, Sound Design, Final Mix, Case Studies, and Film have been procured by an impressive roster of clients that includes Airbnb, Bacardi, Boeing, Carnival, Coca-Cola, Disaronno, Doritos, Energizer, ESPN, Google, HP, Humana, Intel, Kid Made Modern, LG, Mastercard, MGM Resorts Int'l, Miller Lite, Modelo, Mountain Dew, Nike, Qualcomm, Red Bull, REI, Samsung, State Farm, Vans, and Victoria’s Secret // ** The two expressions of Laurel Canyon Spirits are currently sold only in California, and are priced at roughly $50 (Black Hjerte Coffee Liqueur) and $25 (White Hjerte Vodka).]