Smell the Coffee
by Sheila Swerling-Puritt
Coffee is one of Canadians' favourite flavours, the perfect deep dark stimulating brew to either wake you up or end a meal. We like it a lot, and our affection for its rich roasted flavour has spilled over into smooth, sweet coffee-flavoured liqueurs. Many people make their own economical versions using instant coffee, neutral spirits and sugar, but those imitations just don't come close to the most popular commercial versions, Kahlúa and Tia Maria.
Kahlúa, the world's top-ranked coffee liqueur, was introduced to North America from Mexico in the early 1960s. This mahogany-coloured, syrupy liqueur with a smoky, toasty coffee flavour, velvety texture and background notes of vanilla, cocoa and mint is moderately sweet and has a long flavourful finish. It's made from hand-picked high-quality pesticide-free Mexican coffee beans. The roasted coffee is then blended with sweet vanilla and top-quality imported rum. Kahlúa has a bright clean flavor, with a snappy finish and attractive coffee candy sweetness.
Tia Maria is ranked as the number two coffee liqueur in Canada, but number one in Quebec. Although still fairly sweet, Tia Maria is dryer and lighter than Kahlúa. It is a product of the Caribbean island of Jamaica and claims to derive from a formula that has been handed down since mid 17th century. Tia Maria is made from the famous Blue Mountain coffee grown north of Kingston. This amber-coloured liqueur has a crisp, tangy coffee flavour with herbaceous, vanilla and chocolate notes, smooth luscious sweetness and a warm alcoholic finish. The recipe is a closely guarded secret!
Island Cream Fizz
- 1½ oz. Tia Maria
- 1½ oz. Bushmills Irish Cream Liquor
- 1½ oz. club soda
- Fill a highball glass with ice cubes.
- Pour in Irish cream liqueur, then add the Tia Maria.
- Add club soda. Gently stir.
A popular cocktail in New York's East Village during the early 1980s.
- ¾ oz. Kahlúa
- ¾ oz. Tequila
- Splash of club soda
- Pour Kahlua and tequila into a 2 oz. shot glass.
- Add small splash of club soda.
- Cover shot glass with a napkin and bang on table at least three times before downing the drink in one gulp. Then scream.
- 1½ oz. Kahlúa
- 1½ oz. vodka
(If you prefer it not quite so bitter, use 2 oz. Kahlua and 1 oz. vodka.)
- Shake the Kahlúa and vodka together in a shaker over ice.
- Empty contents, ice cubes and all, into a rocks glass.
- Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
White Russian Émigré
My creamy version of the other classic.
1 oz. vodka
- ½ oz. Tia Maria
- ½ oz. Martell Cognac
- 1 oz. heavy cream
Preparation method exactly as Black Russian. You can skip the cherry.
For more information, you can contact Sheila at email@example.com.