Or at least something like it.
You can find Kahlua in Switzerland, but instead of costing around 15USD, it’s more like 33-35USD. And I just have a problem with that. But as it turns out, you can make a pretty decent approximation of it at home, with stuff you probably already have. And it’s dead easy, with little hands-on time.
I started with this recipe, but scaled it way down - this is an experiment, after all. The first batch I made was ok, but it didn’t taste much like Kahlua. It didn’t have the right consistency or flavor profile. It was thin, just like coffee, not the slightly syrupy viscosity of Kahlua, and it just tasted like sweet, slightly alcoholic coffee. Which, don’t get me wrong, is not a bad thing, and it still made a tasty White Russian (which Amber & I took to calling a ‘White Czechoslovakian’ as it wasn’t quite Russian… and doesn’t technically exist anymore… or something), but I didn’t feel like I’d nailed it yet. I could do better.
Upon further interweb research, I found that many people think that it develops in flavor if you let it age for two weeks or more after making it. Ok, I can dig that. I also took into consideration that a few people boil down the coffee & sugar a bit to thicken it up.
So here’s what happend: 150g brown sugar + 40g raw sugar (I didn’t want to open a new bag of brown sugar so I made up the difference with raw) went into about 600mL freshly brewed coffee, and I slowly brought that to a boil over pretty low heat, let it boil just for a few minutes then turned off the heat & let it cool. Once cool I mixed in 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla* and about 210mL vodka**, and poured the mix into two clean Eichhof Bügelbräu bottles (400mL capacity each).
And down into the cellar they went. To wait patiently…
2-week taste test results: it’s pretty delicious. Even the original batch, while still a bit thin & one dimensional, improved greatly after a few weeks of aging. But this second batch beats it. It’s deep & sweet & slightly syrupy & rich & altogether quite tasty. I’d have to taste it side by side to say for sure, but I think I might even like it better than the real Kahlua. It has an edge & a real, present coffee flavor that I think Kahlua seems to lack. Kahlua is all soft edges & approachability, and I think it lacks the muscle of a real, good cup of coffee. And I think this homemade version has that. I’m looking forward to using it in some delicious desert-in-a-glass White Russians.
Bottom line - it’s cheap, easy, fun, tasty, and gratifying. It’s just cooler to make your own stuff. Win.
*I would love to try making it with fresh vanilla beans
**Unfortunately you can’t get grain alcohol (such as everclear) here, but if I end up continuing to make this I may try to bring a bottle over from the states, as I think using a higher proof alcohol would make a better, more concentrated product