One of my favorite places in the world is Shepherdstown, West Virginia and one of my favorite coffee shops just happens to be along their main street, which is actually called German Street. The Lost Dog is a home grown, indie establishment built in the mid-90s (I think). It hasn't changed much since then. The owners and employees have a laid back approach to barista-ing and tend to prefer an irreverent, [some would call it] hippie aesthetic over the clean lines and soulless design of urban coffee shops.
The drinks there are amazing, diverting from standard fare and experimenting quite heavily with what tastes good rather than what seems most orthodox. The Lost Dog has employed baristas, including the owner, who have gone on to national espresso competitions. I went to Shepherd College and I probably spent $3-5 a day (on my miniscule student's wage at the neighboring flower shop, that was indulgent!) at Lost Dog, always focusing on one particular drink. Garth, the guy who I believe still owns the place, would make the drink for me more often the not and he'd coat the top with deliciously colored sugar sprinkles in various tie-dye patterns.
Garnished with an orange wedge, the Wet Dog is essentially an espresso cream spritzer. Having worked at coffee houses since my experience with Lost Dog, I took it upon myself to experiment with various ingredients and steps in order to perfect what I consider my Wet Dog knock off. It is SOOOO impossible to explain this beverage to the robotic drones at Starbucks, but sometimes I can find a good homespun coffee shop to mix this up for me. Since I discovered my dairy allergy last year, I was terrified that my days lapping up the Wet Dog (no pun, ewwww) were over, but I went to Shepherdstown last fall and asked the barista if she could make a soy Wet Dog and she nodded approvingly. The drink was heavenly.
I'm salivating as I write this because I cannot wait to go back and get one. Fortunately, I can make multiple pit stops in a town I first grew to love over 10 years ago, as I have a new friend Pang out there and my old boss at the flower shop is always ready to bust my chops about my Miss Priss freshman year of college and what a tattooed, lesbian hooligan I've turned into. So go to Shepherdstown if you can, go to The Lost Dog, order a Wet Dog and enjoy what it means to be in a REAL indie coffee shop.
So here's the recipe.
The Knock Off Wet Dog
(16 oz. glass/cup)
2 oz. espresso or dark-dark roast coffee
1 oz. vanilla syrup
1 oz. caramel syrup
2 oz. half & half (or whatever milk you want)
generous scoop of ice
seltzer water to fill the glass
I made this fabulously technical diagram for you using my superb MS Paint skills and a little bit of Picnik.com. Don't say I never gave you anything!
Not everyone enjoy's the Wet Dog, or my knock off, but if you're adventurous I say give it a whirl.
(Lost Dog sign photo courtesy of cameragirl @ Flickr)