Written by Chris Benjamin, director of food and beverage at the Essex Resort and Spa.

Coffee. One of the elixir’s of life. Ask anyone who gets up before 6 a.m. on a regular basis, and it’s pretty much a sure necessity, and it’s been around a long time. Way back in 500 B.C., Homer mentioned “a mysterious black beverage made of beans said to awaken the weariest of travelers.”

Because people love the flavor of coffee, it didn’t take long for someone to figure out that it would be perfect as a liqueur. And when thinking of coffee liqueurs (there are a lot of them — around 40 at last count), the one that probably comes to mind first is Kahlúa.

Kahlúa was created back in 1936 by Señor Blanco. He was approached by the Alvarez brothers who convinced him to use their premium Arabica coffee beans in his recipe. About 26 years later, a chemist by the name of Montalvo Lara refined the recipe, continuing to use the Alvarez brothers’ premium beans. According to Kahlúa’s website, some of the Mexican villagers began to refer to the year 1936 as 0 A.K. (“after Kahlúa”). In 1964, Kahlúa was first exported to the United States and shortly became the best-selling coffee liqueur. Twenty years later, Kahlúa became the number one liqueur brand in the world.

There are some brands out there that are cheaper, but in my mind, they don’t have the same flavor profile, richness, or density on the palate that Kahlúa has.

Made popular in the United States by drinks like the Sombrero (Kahlúa and milk) and the White Russian (vodka, Kahlúa, and milk), this liqueur is a great addition to your coffee or aperitif martini.

Now there are a lot of martinis out there that Kahlúa can work with. As usual, my creative bar team has created a pretty good one. I was recently making quite a few mocha lattes for a group contact and friend here at the resort, so I’ve gotten a lot of practice at steaming milk (not too hot) and getting the perfect cream on a cup of espresso. But with this recipe, the Mocha Latte Martini, you don’t have to struggle with getting the right amount of air in your mix. You just need to have the ingredients to make it great.

We use a lot of different coffee liqueurs with this recipe, including one of Kahlúa’s newest products, Kahlúa Mocha. It has a touch more chocolate, but I think you’ll appreciate it in this drink. Don’t forget to add three coffee beans as a garnish. Traditionally, they represent health, wealth and happiness and are said to bring good luck to the consumer.

The Mocha Latte Martini
1¼ oz. Three Olives Triple Espresso vodka
¾ oz. Kahlúa Mocha liqueur
¾ oz. Baileys Coffee liqueur
Hershey’s syrup
3 coffee beans

Combine vodka and liqueurs in large shaker glass with ice. Shake vigorously. Drizzle chocolate sauce around the rim of the glass. Pour martini in glass. Garnish with beans.