Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | November 3, 2009

Review: Kahlua Coffee Cream

I was recently sent a bottle of Kahlua’s limited release of a Coffee Cream liqueur. Kahlua Coffee Cream is only available between October and December, a surprisingly small run for a product that should have a decent market for people familiar with the regular traditional coffee liqueur. Also, the winter holiday season is one that I associate with other coffee cream liqueurs. But whatever works for Kahlua.

Here are some details, courtesy of the press release announcing Kahlua Coffee Cream:

This new release is a natural extension of Kahlúa s line of coffee liqueurs, all of which are made with 100 percent Arabica beans.  The coffee beans are shade-grown and handpicked in the Vera Cruz region of Mexico.  Locally sourced ingredients, including Mexican vanilla and cane rum, are key components in creating Kahlúa s unique flavor.  The rich cream adds another dimension to the liqueur, enhancing Kahlúa s signature notes of vanilla, caramel and hints of dark chocolate.

When I first got the bottle, my natural instinct was to whip out a rocks glass, toss in a few cubes and try the Coffee Cream over ice. I’ll admit that there was a time when I was in college that the thought of a coffee cream liqueur chilled over ice sounded like a pretty good idea. Apparently my palate has evolved. The cream is very sweet, far more than I’m used to for spirits I sip on their own. It’s also very rich, with strong, creamy vanilla and coffee elements. In many regards, it is exactly what you’d expect if you’re familiar to the original Kahlua. Incidentally, that also makes it stand out as quite different from other Irish varieties of coffee cream liqueurs.

Kahlua Coffee Cream was the subject of a Thursday Drink Night a number of weeks back. I looked over some of the top submissions and saw that a number of people had used it as a base for flips. Flips go back a long, long way in the history of Western drinking. But they began to take the form we know them now when Jerry Thomas published How to Mix Drinks; or, The Bon-Vivant’s Companion in 1862. In his famous cocktail book, Thomas described a Cold Brandy Flip as brandy, water, sugar, and a fresh egg.  The resulting cocktail is a creamy and frothy drink — one of my favorites with a whole egg in it.

Now since Kahlua Coffee Cream is already quite sweet, I didn’t think I’d need any further sweetener to make a flip around it. After a few tries in different directions, here’s what I came up with:

All Saints Flip

All Saints Flip

1.5 oz Kahlua Coffee Cream
0.5 oz Ramazzotti amaro
0.5 oz Cognac
1 whole raw egg
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker & dry shake. Then add ice and shake until cold and frothy. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with ground nutmeg.

I was actually really happy with how this cocktail came out. It’s rich, creamy, and sweet but not too sweet. The bitter from the amaro and bitters, along with the booziness of the cognac, balance out the Kahlua pretty well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fairly sweet cocktail. But it’s complex and fun, too. I haven’t done too much recipe creation that have included egg. Experimenting with different proportions and choices of  dairy product (whole, yolk, white, cream) in this cocktail was pretty cool. I always encourage friends to try cocktails with egg in them because I’ve never had one that I disliked yet.

I also worked on a somewhat simpler flip-esque drink, using bourbon as a base.

Bourbon Coffee Flip

1.5 oz Kahlua Coffee Cream
1.0 oz Bourbon
.75 oz Whole milk
1 egg yolk
3 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker & dry shake. Then add ice and shake until cold and frothy. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with ground nutmeg.

This cocktail was a bit simpler than the All Saints Flip. The milk and yolk didn’t produce as frothy a flip, but so it goes without the white. Nonetheless, this was a pretty nice, lighter cocktail with a coffee and cream base.

I’m not a huge fan of sweet liqueurs. They’re just not something I enjoy drinking on their own and they can be fairly tricky to use in cocktails. But I think Kahlua Coffee Cream has some really interesting applications for recipes that pair it with other dairy products. As we approach the holiday season, the possibilities for having fun with this are manifold. I’ll keep it close at hand and pass along any other interesting recipes that I come up with.

Disclosure: The review of Kahlua Coffee Cream was made possible because I was sent a bottle for the purposes of sample and review. I was then accidentally sent a second bottle due to a clerical error.


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