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Mixing two of America’s favorite ingredients

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyAn espressotini from Ray's Restaurant Wednesday in Edwards.
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EAGLE COUNTY – The possibilities of beverages made from coffee beans are on a fast track that Star Bucks isn’t a part of. Not until it gets its liquor license, anyway.Not only do many Americans spend their entire work week sipping lattes and cappuccinos, but now they’re bringing coffee into their cocktail mix.”All of us have seen the explosion of the coffee culture,” said Virginia Morris, U.S. marketing manager for Kahlua. ” It’s gone from a morning-only drink to an ingredient throughout the day. We’ve seen a lot of iced lattes springing up with Kahlua, and we’re seeing the espresso martini come in as an after-dinner substitute.”Kahlua is one of the most popular liquor ingredients to mix with coffee-alcohol drinks. Whiskey, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Frangelico and Tia Maria are just a few of the alcohols night-time coffee drinkers – and morning drinkers too, depending on their habits – enjoy in their hot cup of caffeine. Alcohol is finding its way into iced coffees, too. Morris said the secret to correct blending is to double the amount of coffee grounds when making iced lattes because the ice waters down the coffee. The brewed coffee should be chilled first – with ice or in the refrigerator – and Kahlua, flavored vodka and milk are added.

The hottest chilled martini flavor springing up on American menus, including several in the Vail Valley, involves – take a guess – coffee. “I like coffee. I really like espresso. I have all day standing around a coffee machine with a full bar,” said Dominique Taylor, bar tender at Ray’s in Edwards and inventor of the bar’s popular espressotini, a mixture of Stoli vanilla, Kahlua, creme de cacao and a shot of espresso, served shaken in a martini glass with chocolate shavings and espresso bean garnish. “I tell people my espresso martini is like having a Red Bull vodka, except it tastes better. It gives you the same energy.”Indeed, the coffee taste leaps at one’s taste buds much sooner than the alcohol in the espressotini, which Taylor made a point, mainly through her affinity for black coffee, to make cream-free.Move over, Cosmo”I had heard of espresso martinis, but with cream in them. The creme de cacao is really the secret ingredient,” Taylor said. “It sweetens it just a little bit. I have people who come in just for it. It’s usually good as a starter drink in the evening. If you have one at the beginning of the night, you’ve got your first hit and you can mellow out to gin and tonics and vodka cranberries.” The Bully Ranch restaurant in Sonnenalp is renowned for its Mud Slide, made from Kahlua, Bailey’s and Smirnoff Vodka poured over ice with no added milk. In the last year, however, the restaurant has included an espresso martini on its martini list, made from Stoli’s vanilla, Kahlua, Bailey’s and a shot of espresso.

“The whole coffee boom has a lot of after-dinner appeal,” said Bully Ranch server Kashi Lee. “People who still want to have an alcoholic drink but not just an espresso, it pairs really well with a dessert.”Much like a latte or an non-alcoholic coffee drink, espresso martinis aren’t something people typically guzzle by the handful in one sitting.”It’s hard to see someone put down three of those,” Lee said. “It seems to be something people want who are just coming in to the bar or at a table if they’re not having a big meal. It’s something a lot of people don’t know about. But with the 25- to 35-year-old group – the coffee generation that came up with Star Bucks and all of that – it sells well.”Coffee on tapSome local establishments have done more than add one coffee cocktail onto their menus. Loaded Joe’s in Avon, which specializes primarily in coffee by day and alcohol by night, has naturally seen the draw for the fusion.”It’s as simple as recognizing that both habits are habitual,” said Adam Olsen, bar manager at Loaded Joe’s. “Coffee cocktails match our concept.”



Although about 25-percent of Loaded Joe’s menu consists of coffee-alcohol mixtures featuring premium Godiva liquors and new coffee-flavored alcohols like Dooley’s from Germany, Olsen said the most popular coffee-alcohol drink is a simple coffee with Bailey’s. Loaded Joe’s makes its espresso martini with espresso vodka, Godiva dark and espresso. Olsen, who managed two restaurants before joining Loaded Joe’s, feels that the coffee-alcohol trend is at its prime and says good coffee is simply making its way into the bar the same way good liquor or beer does.”it’s making a place for itself in the bar world,” he said. “If you can combine great liquors with great coffees, you’re going to make a great drink. There’s a push for coffee cocktails because there’s a push for artisan coffees. There’s a need for quality coffee. And, when you’re adding it to the bar, it’s just another premium ingredient.”Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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