With so many events planned in the lead up to Christmas, plus a Mint Velvet tote bag that I need in my life way before Santa does his drop, I’m actually trying to have a pretty low-key November. Having recently moved to Clapham from Bondi and adjusting to the associated climate change, I’ve decided to embrace the whole ‘staying in is the new going out’ ideal for this month – well, at least I’m going to try.
So, all fireworked out after Friday’s spectacular at Ally Pally, on Saturday I decided to swap my usual glass of Tempranillo and try my hand at some simple Tia Maria cocktails. Yes Tia Maria; a staple of my parents’ drinks cabinet in the 80s and often a duty-free purchase so that my Mum could sip it at home with diet coke and reminisce about Corralejo sunsets.
Fast forward to 2016, and Tia Maria, riding in on the swell of millennial coffee lovers and espresso martini drinkers, has made a comeback with a stylish new bottle and some contemporary serving suggestions meaning I’ll be replacing my Mum’s Diet Coke mixer for bottle of Fentimans.
For those of you who still need convincing, Tia Maria’s brand ambassador gave me the 101 on how the coffee liqueur has become popular again:
So for me, Tia Maria brings me sense of 80’s nostalgia. What’s new?
Right now we’re noticing that as the UK’s love for coffee booms, people’s love for coffee cocktails is growing too – from the classic espresso martini to new and innovative serves, coffee cocktails have never been more in demand! We just launched the Tia Maria + Coffee Project at this year’s London Cocktail Week, where our new range of coffee cocktails went down a storm. Around a thousand were sold each day.
Where does Tia Maria come from?
The story of Tia Maria dates back to the mid-17th century. When a beautiful young Spanish aristocrat fled the turmoil that 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.
What is the inspiration behind the new bottle?
The new elegant bottle design features a contemporary twist with smooth lines giving fresh definition to the timeless Tia Maria silhouette for a more slender outline. It underwent keen consumer testing employing an innovative research methodology based on neuromarketing. This discipline merges traditional marketing with neuroscience and psychology, so as to measure how the human brain behaves in response to stimuli from specific products or brands. The result? Promoted with perfect grades!
Neuromarketing eh? Blimey. Well it looks very nice anyway. So, cocktails aside, (we’ll get to them in a minute) what’s your favourite Tia Maria serve?
My favourite mixer is ginger beer as the spiciness of the mixer really lifts up the Tia Maria – it works so well together. Squeeze in a small wedge of lime and you have a great drink.
Tell me a secret about Tia Maria, so I can impress guests at the next dinner party I throw, when I bring out this swanky new bottle from my drinks cabinet…
Tia Maria was used in the original espresso martini created by Dick Bradsell in the 1980s, which was created right here in London.
Now Christmas is round the corner, how should I be incorporating Tia Maria in to upcoming celebrations?
You can’t go wrong with an espresso martini (and this was our most popular cocktail at London Cocktail Week in terms of the amount ordered). To make the Tia Maria Classic Espresso Martini, you need 25ml Tia Maria, 25ml vodka, a single/double shot of espresso and 5ml sugar syrup. Shake all ingredients hard, double strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with three coffee beans.
TIA MARIA CLASSIC ESPRESSO MARTINI
25ml Tia Maria
Single/double shot of espresso
5ml sugar syrup
Method: Shake all ingredients hard, Double strain into a chilled coupe glass, Garnish with three coffee beans
Our verdict: Nice take on the traditional Espresso Martini, one of our go-to cocktails, although add the sugar syrup to your taste, as for me the Tia Maria added enough sweetness. MR
TIA MARIA MINT FRAPPE
25ml Tia Maria
Double shot of espresso
6 fresh mint leaves
50ml fresh milk
Method: Shake all ingredients, Pour over cubed ice, Stir and serve, Garnish with a sprig of mint
Our Verdict: I crushed up my mint leaves in a pestle & mortar before shaking up to release the flavour. Gives a zingy kick to your usual frappe, and dead easy to make! This was my fave. MR
WHAT: Tia Maria
WHEN: Available now
FOLLOW: @TiaMariaDrink #TiaMariaCoffeeProject