I admit, with a decades-old memory of Kahlua’s cloying taste still fresh in my mind, I wasn't exactly eager to try this. But open the bottle I did, and what a surprise. It isn’t sweet, or not very, and carries the taste of very good dark-roast coffee to an absurd length. By that I mean the taste of coffee lingers on the palate, along with notes of hazelnut and the earthy bitterness of chicory. The result is fresh and sophisticated.
It’s made with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee beans roasted medium-to-dark, French chicory root and Madagascar vanilla. Per usual, the Alameda-based distiller pays attention to the details. The beans are roasted by Jewel Box Roasters in Oakland. And when they couldn’t get the right grind with a coffee grinder, they turned to a grain mill. The coffee is then infused at low temperatures to extract maximum flavor and minimal astringent components.
Oh, you could sip this coffee liqueur straight. But St. George Spirits has some suggestions, most of which include brushing up on your mixology skills. I’m kind of thinking “The City That Never Sleeps” could be the one: 1-1/2 ounces Breaking & Entering Bourbon (St. George Spirits' own whiskey), 1 ounce St. George NOLA coffee liqueur, 1/2 ounce dry vermouth and 2 dashes bitters. Stir all ingredients with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.
If I had some vanilla ice cream in the freezer right now, I’d pour the coffee liqueur over an affogato. That's ice cream “drowned” in coffee, so refreshing on a hot, humid day. (St. George suggests one ounce each of the coffee liqueur and fresh-brewed espresso to one large scoop vanilla ice cream.) They're calling it the Big, Easy Affogato.