One of the proudest moments in the early realm of my DIY mixology was one of the very first: taking on homemade Kahlua for holiday gifts. Once upon a time, a friend had brought a bottle of her own to a party earlier in the holiday season, and I found myself so dang blown away and inspired by the flavors in that bottle. How did someone make something that good?! Why was no one else doing this?! Why would I ever buy big brand stuff again?!
Not only did I get to skip buying crap for my coworkers that year, but I had something fun to do! I quickly jumped on board and realized that Kahlua is really just a brand – it was the coffee liqueur I was beckoning. So, I brewed some Stumptown, gathered the grain alcohol and vanilla, a giant pot, some cute bottles, and got to it. The end project was much more impressive than it let on, and I was enamored.
Fast forward a few years into a late summer’s start in fruit liqueur action and homemade vanilla bourbon extract at my side, and I was ready to embark once more.
The recipe remains simple, and call it DIY Kahlua or homemade coffee liqueur with your beans’ region of origin thrown in for artisan pride, and start planning the rest of your cocktail party.
Of course, use coffee you like – the more you like your roasted beans, the better the final product. And go fair trade!Homemade Coffee Liqueur Ingredients
- 9 cups of strongly brewed coffee, cooled
- 3/4 liter high proof alcohol
- 1 1/2 lbs. vegan sugar (I primarily used a mix of dark brown and coconut palm sugar)
- 5 tablespoons of high quality vanilla extract
- 1-2 teaspoons of finely grated blood orange peel
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- optional: pinch of cinnamon powder or extract
Served straight up, over ice
Coconut White Russian (makes 1)Oh, my. >Fill a tall glass with ice. Add 3-5 ounces of vodka, 2 ounces of coffee liqueur, and top with 3 ounces of your very favorite non-dairy coffee creamer – and in this case, I’ll recommend a sweet coconut creamer. Slow stir before sipping. You could also do canned coconut milk, but stir before using and consider adding a drop of liquid sweetener. Note: If the thought of all that cream is a bit much, omit for a traditional Black Russian.
Watching Elf (makes 1)A strong whiskey-based cocktail that my sister and I put together while watching the aforementioned film, that’s balanced with rich coffee and fresh blood orange. Not quite early morning appropriate. >Shake 2 ounces of vanilla-infused whiskey (or whiskey plus a dash of vanilla extract), 1 ounce of coffee liqueur, 1/2-1 ounce of fresh blood orange juice and a dash of your favorite bitters with ice, pour into a chilled glass, and serve.
Tip: You can easily substitue non-flavored vodka for the high proof grain alcohol, such as Everclear (which is derived from corn, celiacs) in this recipe , but if you can find it, go with the latter, as it will give it a much cleaner vibe. If you do go with vodka, try to find 100 proof or above.