Kahlúa Gingerbread: How to Make It Tolerable

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Ring the bell, it's time for Last Call, where JK Grence, bartender at Shady's, serves up booze advice and recipes. Got a burning question for your bartender? Leave it in the comments and it might be answered in a future column.

A simultaneous perk and hazard of the bar industry is learning about new products. Since I both make drinks and write about them, promoters come at me from multiple angles. Liquor representatives come to the bar, hoping to convince me that their newest product is the greatest thing to happen since distillation. It's a perk because I find out about awesome new spirits before anyone else. It's a hazard because sometimes those spirits are ill-conceived. The orange-flavored Scotch is an especially tragic memory.

See Also: Don't Use Vodka in Pie Crust, Have a White Russian With It Instead Coquito: Puerto Rican Coconut Egg Nog

Then, I'll get e-mails from public relations people. They tout products aimed more to the home market. One that recently came through the Chow Bella office was for Kahlúa Gingerbread, a new holiday-themed coffee liqueur. I have a strange feeling that the nice PR lady expected us to paraphrase her handy-dandy press release, possibly dub it a perfect holiday gift, and call it a day. Little did she know, Chow Bella has a professional bartender on the writing team.

Out of the bottle, Kahlúa Gingerbread looks just like its plain counterpart, dark brown and syrupy. Smelling it is an entirely different matter. While regular Kahlúa smells of sweetened coffee, it's hard to pin down the aroma of Kahlúa Gingerbread. The closest I can get is lightly burned gingerbread cookies with too much molasses and spice added. The "lightly burned" part probably comes into play from the roasted notes of the coffee.

Tasting it neat is pure overload. Cloves and a slightly metallic flavor dominate. Simply put, not fun. This needs to be cut with something. The back of the label and the PR flack agreed that I should make a Kahlúa Cookie Martini. It's dive-bar easy: Mix vodka and Kahlúa Gingerbread, shake with ice, serve straight up. The bottle says equal parts, PR lady says 1½ parts vodka to ½ part Kahlúa Gingerbread (Side note: Bar recipe writers, stop writing things in half-parts. A part shows a ratio, not a set unit of volume. That should have been 3 parts vodka to 1 part liqueur. Thank you.). Neither one does it for me. The 1:1 doesn't cut the acrid note enough, while 3:1 mutes the spices so much that it tasted like watered down, overroasted Starbucks espresso.

I tried to figure out what the hell to do with this stuff to make it taste better. Then, it hit me. What's the natural partner for a cookie? Milk! I threw a shot of the Kahlúa Gingerbread into a glass of milk, and took a swig. I'll be damned, it tasted like I was drinking liquid Biscoff Spread, that ultra-addictive gingerbread cookie butter. It also made a pretty nice enhancement to egg nog. So, I'll recommend Kahlúa Ginger with reservations: Mix it fairly tall with dairy products, and it could be your holiday hit.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.