Kahlua is a bar back staple, but remains relatively under appreciated by the average consumer despite its impact on the bar scene. Whether it’s playing a key role in a white russian, or adding complexity to an espresso martini, Kahlua is a must have on any bartender’s shelf.
With tomorrow (February 27) being National Kahlua Day, we thought it would be a good idea to dig up some interesting facts about this staple spirit, and the impact its made on the development of the modern bar program.
So here’s five things you may not have known about Kahlua:
While most people are familiar with Kahlua being a principle ingredient in White Russians, many may not realize the spirit actually hails from Mexico. Kahlua comes from the eastern state of Veracruz, Mexico. Kahlúa, means ‘House of the Acolhua People’ in Nahuatl, began way in 1936 thanks to well known Mexican spirits producer Pedro Domecq and first made it to the US market in 1940.
A bottle takes seven years to make
Kahlua is a rum based liqueur with added combinations of coffee, corn syrup, vanilla bean and more. Because of the time needed to grow coffee beans, sugar cane and vanilla a single bottle can take up to seven years for production.
There’s more than just one
Regular Kahlua has an alcohol percentage of 20%, but there is also Kahlua Especial. Launched in 2002 it uses 100% Arabica coffee beans from Veracruz and is stronger, far more coffee oriented and less sweet than the original. It also packs a higher alcohol percentage at 34%.
The company was once all-female led
In the 1960’s there was a period of time where the Kahlua company was entirely led by women. Known as the Kahlua Ladies they were media sensations as it was practically unheard of for a company of its size to be entirely female driven, especially in the alcohol business. Unfortunately, the same could be said today.
A Canadian helped make it famous
While Kahlua is frequently used in things like desserts, and of course white and black russians, it was a Canadian bartender at the Banff Springs Hotel that helped increase its fame with the creation of the B-52 shot. A layered shot of Kahlua, Irish cream liqueur and orange liqueur, the B-52 was just the right combination of sweet and creamy to spread like wildfire in the late 1970’s.