My youngest daughter Lauren works at Nordstrom’s in their Visual Merchandising department; she is one of the elves that work behind the scenes for weeks in preparation for the big reveal of all things Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. I won’t say it’s not hard for me that we don’t spend the holiday together but I respect Nordstrom’s tradition; it’s so in line with my own.
That being said; I struggled with doing a post this week before Thanksgiving that had any mention of Christmas. But…no make that a big BUT; I’m really doing this for you! I decided it was worth jumping the gun a few days than waiting until it’s too late to share this recipe that is the perfect gift for you to give friends and family over the holiday gift giving season.
Cigars and Kahlua Shooters – A Tribute to My Uncle Eddie
I don’t make my holiday gifts because I’m cheap (promise!) but because I want to put an effort into them that makes the giving personal in a very real sense. Don’t laugh but this year…recipients are getting this coffee liqueur, my version of Biscoff cookies (I’ll share them soon!) and my home cured Maple Bourbon Bacon. Yes, bacon. I want them all to experience how amazing home cured bacon is so yesterday I bought 10 lbs of pork belly which I’ll be curing and smoking and wrapping in one pound packages for gifts. Go on, tell me now if that’s crazy; I’m happy to hang on to all of it for myself!
There are a variety of methods I’ve seen for making home brewed
Kahlua coffee liqueur. The primary difference in methods is using either coffee grounds in the brew or instant coffee. I’ve done both and personally prefer going the instant coffee route; the year I tried grounds there was no way to remove every bit of them; even pouring it through cheesecloth didn’t completely work if only because some of the heavenly elixir was lost in the cheesecloth. I also like to cook down the sugars and water to get a syrupy consistency before adding the vodka. Is it totally necessary? Not really; just my personal preference.
I’ve found that my favorite concoction includes some of my own revisions. I use dried espresso instead of instant coffee; I just think it’s a bit richer as a result. And beyond the standard water, sugars and vodka I add just a touch of chocolate liqueur to the mix. I often use espresso in a chocolate recipe because they are so compatible with each other so I’ve just done ‘opposite day’ and added a bit of chocolate to this espresso based liqueur. It’s subtle but it’s there and it’s a good addition and I love this Homemade Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)!
By the way; I don’t recommend that you use either Everclear or your best vodka for this. Everclear is often recommended but it’s grain alcohol that has such a high proof that many liquor stores won’t even carry it; just look for a bottle of 100 proof vodka (Smirnoff has one). Using great sipping vodka is also not required; save that for your favorite cocktails. Once you mix the vodka with sugars and coffee and let it age a bit; the vodka will mellow out. I usually ask a liquor store for a recommendation and spend around $15 for a 750 ML bottle.
I do love making liqueurs and have a couple more favorites we just love:
Better than Kahlua – How to Make Coffee Liqueur
1 hour 15 minutes
I think better even than Kahlua...your own coffee liqueur using espresso.
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1/4 cup dried espresso
- 3 cups vodka
- 2 vanilla beans, split
- 2 shots of chocolate liqueur
- Combine the water, both sugars and dried espresso in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Bring to a boil; turn the heat to low and simmer for a minimum of 1 hour.to reduce the mixture and make a more syrupy consistency.
- Watch constantly and stir occasionally.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Add vodka, vanilla beans and chocolate liqueur.
- Pour everything into a storage container.
- Age for 3-4 weeks in a cool, dark location; stirring once or twice a week. (Note...it's absolutely drinkable earlier; so if you have less time to age it than that; gift it and make a note on the gift tag to wait just a bit).
- When ready to bottle, remove vanilla beans, bottle mixture and store.
I cut up the vanilla beans and add them to some sugar...nothing at all wrong with Kahlua flavored sugar in your coffee!
NOTE: No, I don’t smoke cigars but my Uncle Eddie did. He and my aunt both passed away this year after a long life together and my cousin sent me some of their possessions. I didn’t want much; all I asked for were a few things that I could use in photos; as a reminder of them. The funny thing is I didn’t think of cigars when I made that request, but one of the things Pat sent me was this old cigar box and it brought back a flood of memories of my Uncle Ed and his cigars. I can see him smoking one now with a coffee liqueur shooter so this one’s for you Ed!