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HOLIDAY COCKTAIL: White Christmas Cocktail (New Year’s Eve, Too)

[1] The White Christmas Cocktail has a complex layering of flavors, including coffee and vanilla (photos #1 and #2 © Kilkea Castle).

[2] The cocktail is available through the holiday season, at Kilkea Castle’s restaurants and lounges.

[3] If you purchase a bottle of Tia Maria for this cocktail, you can use it as often as you like in coffee, as an after-dinner drink. Or, splash some into iced coffee as an after-work treat (photo © Tia Maria).


This “White Christmas” cocktail can continue straight through New Year’s Eve.

It’s rum- and vodka-based, with coffee liqueur and vanilla vodka. You may not have all the ingredients, so see the substitutions below.

Ingredients Per Drink

  • 25ml Tia Maria or other coffee liqueur
  • 25ml vanilla vodka
  • 225ml/1 cup Malibu Caribbean Rum With Coconut Liqueur
  • 70ml milk
  • Ice cubes and shaker
  • Garnish: granulated brown sugar

    1. COMBINE the Tia Maria, vanilla vodka, Malibu rum and milk into shaker with ice and shake vigorously until well-chilled (20-30 seconds).

    2. STRAIN into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with brown sugar stripes (or design of your choice). You can use an espresso spoon or other implement to sprinkle the stripes.

  • Vodka. If you don’t have vanilla vodka, blend 1 cup of plain vodka with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • Tia Maria. You can substitute Kahlúa for Tia Maria (photo #3), but Kahlúa is sweeter and more syrupy. Tía María is lighter and smoother, with a stronger note of vanilla.
  • Brown Sugar. See the next section.

    Granulated brown sugar, which is used for the garnish, is a pourable version of brown sugar that can be used as a substitute for light brown sugar, which is not particularly pourable.

    Domino calls its brand Pourable Light Brown Sugar. It’s also a delicious sprinkle on oatmeal and other cereals, and for fruit that isn’t as sweet as it could be.

    If you can’t find it locally, look on Amazon.

    Here’s more about granulated brown sugar.

    You can substitute:

  • Demerara sugar. It’s a minimally-refined raw cane sugar with large crystals, that are good for a sprinkled garnish. The crystals are lighter in color than turbinado sugar. But both demerara and turbinado will have less molasses flavor and more sweetness than the granulated brown sugar.
  • Turbinado sugar (e.g., Sugar In The Raw). It’s raw sugar with a light molasses flavoring. Both turbinado and demerara are used for sprinkling onto baked goods, where they deliver a nice crunch.
  • Coconut sugar, also called coconut palm sugar. It’s a lovely if less-well-known sugar in the U.S. Note that it does not taste like coconut! The flavor is similar to brown sugar, with a slightly toasted note.

    Kilkea Castle (photo #2) is a luxury hotel resort and golf club located in County Kildare, Ireland, 40 minutes from the Dublin Airport.

    While we can’t spend Christmas there, alas, we can have a small taste of it, thanks to Kilkea Castle’s head bartender, David Pedro.



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