While Darden was operating the original Third Perk Coffeehouse and Wine bar at 46 W. Fifth St., she attended Coffee Fest, a quarterly, national coffee trade show, three times. Third Perk staff joined Darden to experience Coffee Fest when it held an Indianapolis event.
It was at that event, during an “innovation lab,” that Darden developed the specialty-drink menu. After coming up with a menu she was proud of, Darden was inspired to use her creations to pay tribute to Dayton’s legends.
Though the artists themselves didn’t necessarily inspire the recipes, Darden is happy to let customers make their own personal connections between the drink in their hand and the Dayton legends.
“That is so cool that they make up stories because we’re talking about very creative people who did a lot of very creative things,” Darden said. “It would be wonderful if one of Erma Bombeck’s relatives were to come in and talk about how she loved chocolate covered raspberries.”
Another drink affectionately named “Fantastic Voyage,” a song by the Dayton funk band Lakeside, is a throwback to warm memories with Darden’s older brother, David. There was a considerable age gap between the siblings: David graduated high school the same year Darden was born.
“David would put me in his car — he had a Cadillac, a brand new Cadillac — and would drive me in this huge Cadillac, and we would listen to songs by Lakeside,” Darden said. “One of my favorite songs was ‘Fantastic Voyage.’ That was one of the first drinks that I made, the Fantastic Voyage. It reminded me of my brother and the time that I spent with him.”
Third Perk Coffeehouse, now at its new downtown location at 146 E. Third St., features a specialty drink menu that pays homage to some of Dayton’s greatest.
Other sweet concoctions on the menu include a dark chocolate and white chocolate “Dunbar” ($4.50- $5.50) after the great Dayton-born poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar; a signature hot chocolate called “Heatwave,” ($2.75- $3.75) named for the Dayton-connected funk band; and a sweet-as-can-be dark chocolate and caramel drink called “Sugar Foot” ($4.50- $5.50) for the late Ohio Players member, Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner.
A second “express” location of Third Perk is located inside the Dayton Mall, and Darden said she is on track to open another express location in the soon-to-open Gem City Market. The specialty drinks are also available at Third Perk’s Dayton Mall location.