Thursday Drink Night: Kahlúa Coffee Cream

Today I am not only writer and mixologist, but also God Emperor of Procrastination. This event happened a week ago, alas, but I’ve been pretty slammed the last couple of weeks. Sorry ’bout that. Let’s make up for it with a drink.

A week ago last night Malo Taquería in Silver Lake hosted a live, in-house edition of Thursday Drink Night. In case you hadn’t seen a mention of it around these parts, TDN is a presentation of The Mixoloseum, hosted weekly in its online chat room from 4pm until around midnight Pacific Time (7pm until when the East Coasters get tired, Eastern Time) in which a topic or particular spirit is explored by the participants, many drinks are made far and wide and we sample, critique and discuss. It’s a lot of fun, and you should join in sometime (there’s usually always someone in the chat room, not just on Thursday nights).

On Thursday, September 10, the sponsored product was Kahlúa Coffee Cream, a not-yet-released product that should be out within the next month or so, in time for the holidays. It’s a cream version of the well-known coffee liqueur, and should prove to be very popular.

Of course, I being me, problem child that I am … I’m not a fan of cream liqueurs in general. Kahlúa Coffee Cream is a good product though, with a robust coffee flavor (100% Arabica beans used in its production, as with the main liqueurs) and the creaminess isn’t too cloying, with a relatively light mouthfeel. It’s excellent on its own over ice, or poured into coffee … but liqueurs like this are notoriously difficult to mix with. Despite my dislike for cream liqueurs, I wanted to come up with a drink that did justice to the sponsor’s product, but was tailored to my own taste.

My solution? Add a trainload of bitters to it. :-)

My first idea was for what I called the “Caffè Flip,” in which Kahlúa Coffee Cream was the base and which I augmented with Fernet Branca (Fernet and coffee is a well-known combination). I tried it at home and really liked it. Some tasters in the chat room preferred it with 1/2 ounce Fernet, but I like it at 3/4.

CAFFÈ FLIP

2 ounces Kahlúa Coffee Cream.
1/2 to 3/4 ounce Fernet Branca.
1 whole egg, separated.
3 dashes Fee’s Aztec Chocolate Bitters.
3 dashes Fee’s Old-Fashion Aromatic Bitters.
Nutmeg.

Separate the egg, reserving the yolk, and dry-shake the white without ice for 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and yolk with ice and shake for 15-20 seconds.

Strain into a wine or port goblet and top with grated nutmeg.

I packed my bartending kit and headed to Malo, armed with the necessary bitters just in case the bar didn’t have them. They did, in fact (well-stocked bar, y’all!), but to my surprise they had no Fernet Branca in the bar! Ah well, I should have known that a tequila bar might not necessarily carry strong Italian bitters. It is for this very kind of occasion (plus indigestion, overindulgence and sheer craving) that I keep a flask of Fernet with me most of the time. However, I neglected to refill it before heading over, sigh.

I was searching behind the small service bar for something I could substitute, when Marleigh suggested, “How ’bout Angostura? I think that’s all we’ve got.” Bingo!

Marleigh and me, mixing at Malo. Photo shamelessly stolen from Matt Robold

Marleigh and me, mixing at Malo. Photo shamelessly stolen from Matt Robold

This version, which I think I like even better, switched languages from Italian to Spanish, as Trinidad is closer to South America than it is to Italy. If it’s too bitter for you, use the smaller amount of Angostura, but I prefer it with the 3/4 ounce amount.

In case you were wondering, the reason for the separation of the egg is because when I tried to shake all of it together, I didn’t get a satisfying head of the kind I like when I make egg drinks. There must be some food chemistry at work here with the cream content of the liqueur, I suppose. When I tried separating the egg and dry-shaking the white first, then adding the remaning ingredients and yolk, I got the nice, thick, creamy head you see above you (which would be even nicer, thicker and creamier had my egg been and not two days after the sell-by date).

The Café Flip (for Thursday Drink Night: Kahlúa Coffee Cream)

CAFÉ FLIP

2 ounces Kahlúa Coffee Cream.
1/2 to 3/4 ounce Angostura bitters.
1 whole egg, separated.
3 dashes Fee’s Aztec Chocolate Bitters.
3 dashes Fee’s Old-Fashion Aromatic Bitters.
Nutmeg.

Separate the egg, reserving the yolk, and dry-shake the white without ice for 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and yolk with ice and shake for 15-20 seconds.

Strain into a wine or port goblet and top with grated nutmeg.

I thought about a No. 2 version of this with Kahlúa Especial and rum instead of the cream liqueur, and tried it. Y’know what? It works better with the cream liqueur. Lesson learned.