After focusing on Kahlúa, we can bring out the coffee liqueur which usually comes to mind when talking about the subject, or indeed after finishing a hearty meal. But what makes Tia Maria stand out above the rest so-to-speak?
It’s origins are disputed, but going off Tia Maria’s official website –
‘The legend of Tia Maria dates back to the mid-17th century, when a beautiful young Spanish aristocrat fled the turmoil colonial war brought to the island of Jamaica. Her maid saved one family treasure, a small jewellery box with black pearl earrings and an ancient manuscript with the recipe for a mysterious liqueur. The recipe was named after the courageous woman: Tia Maria. It was then rediscovered in the 1950s by Dr. Kenneth Leigh Evans, who began to produce and market it. Still made to the original Caribbean recipe by ILLVA Saronno and distributed in over 60 countries . . .’
To dispute, Dr. Evans discovered the drink after World War II, and he began reproducing it. Since the company called Tia Maria International Limited was incorporated in 1929, this seems unlikely.
Either way, Tia Maria is in our stores, bars and restaurants, partly due to the fact that its first television ad campaign in the 1980’s, featuring Iman, the famous supermodel and wife of British rock star David Bowie, brought the attention of Tia Maria to global attention.
With an infusion of natural vanilla, fresh roasted Jamaican coffee beans, a secret blend of 27 herbs and spices sourced from across the globe, and a touch of Jamaican rum, Tia Maria is simple, and effective. But how does it fare just on its own, no after-dinner or cocktail in sight? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Tia Maria – 20%
Fresh coffee on the nose with a slight raw roast following. Very soft on the palate however, with a slight sweetness following a whisp of coffee and rum blending together.
Not too bad, but one thing that this liqueur is also good for is its adaptability within cocktails –
Tia Espresso Martini
25 ml Tia Maria
25 ml Espresso
25 ml Vodka
12.5 ml Sugar syrup
Combine all ingredients together with crushed ice in a boston shaker and shake. Fine strain into a martini glass and garnish with coffee beans.
20 ml Tia Maria
20 ml Triple Sec
40 ml Orange juice
Combine all ingredients together with crushed ice in a boston glass. Shake and fine strain into a coupet glass and garnish with an orange twist.
Tia Maria is an all-rounder. Great on its own, even better within a cocktail. With its closest rival of Kahlúa, coffee liqueurs set the trend for your after-dinner drink and something a little bit more extravagant than your normal choice of coffee. And don’t forget, just because you don’t see them on a menu too often, a bar will more than likely stock it. Don’t be afraid to ask, after all, it’s your night.
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