Do you know what's delicious? Kahlua. Do you know what I will never, ever finish an entire bottle of? Kahlua. I'm pretty sure my parents have a bottle in their liquor cabinet that's been there since 1993. It's just one of those things that I reach for every so often to make, say, a white Russian, and not part of my regular cocktail rotation. Somewhere in the back of my head I assumed that Kahlua was one of those things that you couldn't DIY without a great deal of equipment and, say, a distillation license. But it turns out that's a total lie. Making Kahlua, or really, a Kahlua-like coffee liqueur, is crazy easy, and you probably don't even have to take a special trip to the store to get any special ingredients.
There are a couple different ways that you can DIY coffee liqueur. There's the steeping method, in which you keep coffee, sugar and vanilla beans in a jar with vodka for three days to three weeks. Some Kahlua recipes recommend making a large amount of simple syrup, and have it slowly simmer on the stove for three hours before adding it to vodka or rum. But look, nobody has time to wait around three days to three weeks before Kahlua arrives on their doorstep. Sometimes you need it soon but you also don't have it in you to like, actually buy it. Good news: you can make your Kahlua the quick and dirty dirtbag way, and honestly, it's just as good. All you need is instant coffee, vanilla, sugar, water, and either vodka or rum. (You might even try it with Everclear, depending on what you have knocking around your liquor cabinet. You do you, boo.)
Photo by Alex Tepper
2 cups vodka
2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup instant coffee crystals (We used Cafe Bustelo)
How to Make It
Bring the water to a simmer and stir in the sugar, vanilla, and coffee crystals. Keep simmering at medium to low heat for about ten minutes, until the mixture resembles a syrup.
Let syrup cool. Pour vodka into a bottle or Mason Jar or whatever container you wish. Add syrup. Serve. You made Kahlua.