It's been one of those weeks. The kind of week that involves 12+ hour work days, large clients threatening to walk without paying, water pouring down from your ceiling fan, and the amount of energy possessed by each member of the family being inversely proportional to her age.
So in the evening I decided to obey the urge I had felt all week to go find a good bottle of coffee liqueur. I can't say why the need came upon me all of a sudden. I haven't had coffee liqueur around for years. But the urge was there, and something had to be done about it.
In the end, I picked up two bottles: a full size of Patron Cafe XO (which I'd heard good things about) and a small one of Kahlua, which I got for comparison.
You never know if these things are going to be any good, so of course my first duty was to perform some rigorous taste tests so that no one else would get hurt if one of these turned out to be dangerous. (Or as Pooh feared with the pot of honey, to have cheese at the bottom.)
Patron Cafe XO is a tequila-based coffee liqueur. Now, I don't know what you think of tequila. I must confess that in general I don't think of it at all. Tequila is not something I would have thought of in combination with coffee. But some time back I'd read somewhere or other that it was great stuff. It is. At 35% ABV Patron Cafe is still quite smooth. There's perhaps a very, very slight sweetness to it, but it's generally very smooth with a good coffee taste to it. This is a coffee liqueur for brandy and whiskey drinkers. Nothing syrupy here.
Kahlua sports only 20% alcohol, and I could swear it must fill in the other 15% with sugar. The texture is syrupy, and the lingering taste of sweet with a slight underlying sourness like low grade coffee. There's no burn to it, for those who don't like their alcohol to taste like alcohol. But it's clearly not meant to be drunk straight. I think the sweetness level is pretty much calibrated for being mixed as a minority ingredient in creamy frozen drinks.
Still, coffee liqueur is intended primarily for mixing, so we pulled out the blender and the handy recipe card that came with the Cafe XO. The "XO Cafe Iced Affair" (there's a girly drink title if I ever saw one) called for coffee ice cream (we used Haagen Dazs), 1.5oz Cafe XO and a small amount of very finely ground coffee. Blend, then pour into glasses.
This met with general approval. It was a good, cold creamy drink for MrsDarwin, and it definitely was coffee-ish enough to meet with my own approval. A strong recommendation.
I'm of two minds whether it's time to branch out into more liqueurs. I'm moderately fond of Benedictine, though sometimes I'm in the mood for something less sweet and mix it 1:3 with Cognac. Next up might be Chartreuse, another liqueur with a long monastic heritage (including suffering under anti-clerical laws in France), but I haven't yet talked myself into shelling out at least $45 for a bottle of something I've never tried before, and which I can't seem to find terribly clear descriptions of. And then there is, of course, the ever-elusive (and illegal) absinthe...