I was over at my buddy’s house a few weeks ago and he had some colorful cardboard tubes on the counter in his kitchen. They were a selection of Keurig coffee cups — called “K-Cups” — from a company called Cask & Kettle. But the difference is they included alcohol in their mixes. Chris had three of their four varieties: Irish Coffee, Mexican Coffee and Hot Blonde Coffee. The one missing from his lineup was Spiked Dry Cider. We tried the Mexican Coffee and Hot Blonde Coffee and they were surprisingly delicious, basically a good cup of coffee with a shot of tasty alcohol.
After our gaming afternoon (playing Gloomhaven, if you’re curious!) I reached out to Cask & Kettle to learn more about the lineup. Turns out it’s a little startup out of Battle Creek, Michigan. Yes, the same Battle Creek that’s the headquarters of cereal giant Kelloggs. They partnered with a Michigan craft distillery called Temperance Distilling out of, logically enough, Temperance, Michigan.
But it’s not about the business partnership, it’s about the drinks, and they’re really good! The company sent me their lineup plus a sample of an upcoming new flavor, Mint Patty Coffee:
If you can read closely, you’ll see that the recipes are thus:
- Spiked Dry Cider: Vodka and apple cider with natural flavors and caramel color. 50 proof.
- Mint Patty Coffee: mystery ingredients for now since I got samples!
- Mexican Coffee: Vodka, tequila and coffee with natural flavors and caramel color. 60 proof.
- Hot Blonde Coffee: Vodka and coffee with vanilla, natural flavors and caramel color. 74 proof.
As a refresher, proof is 2x the percentage of alcohol (so 100 proof = 50% alcohol). This means that in particular that Hot Blonde is strong. Tasty, but 74 proof is also a pretty strong beverage. The missing variety that I didn’t receive is the Irish Coffee, which consists of vodka, Irish whiskey and coffee with natural flavors. It’s the strongest of their lineup too at 76 proof.
In the pods, they look just like any other Keurig coffee pod, just with different labels:
Shake ’em and they’re liquid inside. In fact, as with all of these k-cups and pods for coffee machines, a vigorous shake before you use it helps produce the best results, so don’t be shy.
I had two taste tests, one with a couple of my buddies, and the other for me on an evening when I needed a bit of chill to relax and let go of a stressful day. Add on the tasting that I did at my friend Chris’ place earlier and that’s a fair number of personal palettes and different taste preferences. My personal preference led me straight to the Mexican Coffee, which was particularly good with a squirt of whipped cream:
If I were served this at a bar or restaurant I would be quite happy with my selection. Really good and you have very little sense that it’s as strong alcoholically as its proof indicates. A close runner up is the Spiked Dry Cider, which while not being coffee at all, is surprisingly refreshing and will be a winner after a walk in the cold of a winter’s evening.
My friends were also fans of the Hot Blonde Coffee, which I found worked best with some half and half stirred in:
The Mint Patty Coffee was really interesting, but while the smell was nice and minty, there was almost no discernable mint flavor in the beverage. My take: That’s a mix that isn’t quite ready to ship. Which is what you’d expect if you’re tasting a prototype mix, right?
Perhaps the least favorite was the one that should be the cornerstone of the Cask & Kettle lineup, however; Irish Coffee. Invented back in 1943 by Joe Sheridan, a chef at Foynes Port near Limerick, Ireland (not the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco), Irish Coffee is one of the most popular alcoholic coffee beverages and Cask & Kettle just haven’t quite nailed that flavor.
Still, that’s all forgiven when I know that on an evening when my friends and I want to have some tasty adult coffee beverages, all I have to do is pull out a few Cask & Kettle pods and brew ’em up in the Keurig. It’s definitely worth trying out for yourself.
Cask & Kettle is working on expanding its distribution but it turns out that there’s quite a weird state-by-state monopoly on the distribution side so while I’m lucky to have a local liquor store that carries it, you might have to go to their Web site at CaskAndKettleUSA.com to order some for yourself. Each container is $15.99 at my local store, or around $3/cup.
Disclosure: Cask & Kettle sent me a selection of its beverage k-cups in return for this writeup. Thanks C&K!