By Jo Cooksey
In my late teens and early twenties sipping on a Black Russian was de riguer but since then I have rarely indulged in drinking Kahlúa. That was until the rise of the Espresso Martini. Over the last couple of years this coffee flavoured liqueur has been enjoying a renaissance.
We’re rather partial to an Espresso Martini at Taste Today, so when we found out that Pernod Ricard, who own Kahlúa, had established an event space called The Loft on Quay Street in Manchester and were offering Kahlúa brunches we booked on straight away. We were promised 2 hours of fun and food, including a masterclass in Espresso Martini making, games area, brunch and another cocktail. All for the grand price of £16. Bargain.
The sessions were running over the early and late May Bank holidays and it’s worth noting that there are still some spaces available over the Whit weekend. There are two sessions a day; one at 11am and one at 1.30pm. The Loft itself is a brilliant space and I had already been there for the Chivas Blending Session a couple of weeks before.
After one false start, thanks Railtrack, I arrived at the venue. Word to the wise, blink and you’ll miss the entrance. It’s down some steps at the side of the now closed Walkabout on Quay Street. The Loft itself is very impressive; light and airy with lots of natural wood, comfy seating and a bar area.
We were seated at long tables with our cocktail making equipment in front of us and after a welcome from Victoria, who runs the loft we were shown how to make our Espresso Martinis by one of the bar guys, Richard. Our cocktail shakers were really dinky and cute, and I need one in my life. The ingredients were ready mixed for us and we just had to add lots of ice and ensure we had correctly fitted the lid. Did you know you should never fit the lid over the pouring section and then join the two to the body because doing so will create a vacuum and you will never be able to get the lid off again. Instead fit the pouring section to the body and then fit the lid. The next thing we had to do was shake like our lives depended on it. Plenty of opportunity for boomerang videos on Instagram. This shaking is to ensure you get a creamy head when you pour your cocktail. This was great fun and the cocktails tasted all the better for having made them ourselves.
Next up was the first course of our brunch, expertly produced by Grape & Grain, a stack of Smashed Avocado and Poached Hens Egg on an English Muffin topped with Kahlúa and Maple infused Ham. There was a Hollandaise served in an empty eggshell. I loved this dish. It’s one of my go-to brunch dishes and the ham was absolutely delicious. The next course was a colourful Pancake Stack topped with a Warm Kahlúa Chocolate Sauce and Chocolate Coffee Beans. We were also given bowls of lightly poached strawberries, fresh blueberries and mini marshmallows to decorate our pancakes with. This course was served with a Chokahlúa Orange, a rather moreish cocktail developed by Chris Bains, of nearby restaurant, Australasia. It blends Kahlúa with tequila, cacao syrup and fresh orange. A grown-up Terry’s chocolate Orange.
As I left the event I bought a Kahlúa kit, which contained a bottle of the coffee liquer, a half bottle of Absolut Vodka and a specially commissioned Espresso Martini glass for £20. Bargain! Obviously, at home we had to practice our cocktail making skills. We made the Martini plus White and Black Russians. Of course, we drank responsibly.
Recipe for Espresso Martini
1 part Kahlúa
2 parts Absolute Vodka
1 part Espresso
Lots of ice.
3 chocolate coffee beans to finish
Shake like mad.
We had a fab time at the brunch and would recommend booking. It’s a great way to spend a weekend morning.
We attended the course as guests of Kahlùa but as always, the review and opinions are our own and unbiased.