Decaf Espresso Martini | #KatiesTakiBar

Happy Cinco de Mayo everybody! It’s been too long since introducing my Taki Bar to you before actually creating something with it to share with you on here. Things have been quite manic, and will be for the next couple of weeks. I actually have no tequila in my home bar at present, but I do have Kahlúa, a Mexican coffee liqueur. Bad timing though as I wondered whether DECAF Espresso Martinis would be possible (and easy) to make*. I’m removing the one Mexican ingredient, however: Kahlúa, and creating my own decaf coffee liqueur. If you want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and with the added energy from the caffeine, just swap the homemade decaf coffee liqueur back to the standard Kahlúa.

*The fact we have a blog post on it, means this is really easy to make.

I was inspired by Carly and Leon‘s laughing fit where Leon had managed to kid Carly into thinking she was having decaf espresso martinis all night. I was originally sitting there laughing along with them at Carly finding out, on camera, that “They don’t do espresso martinis!”. I was sure that making your own decaf espresso martinis shouldn’t be too hard, as the only thing caffeinated ingredient in them is the Kahlúa, espresso and coffee bean garnish (if any). Therefore, we need to make a new decaf coffee liqueur and think of an inventive decaf garnish. It’s super easy to make, but just takes 4 weeks to rest. I’m going to say now, that even though you’re not going to “still be wired at 11am” as with a typical espresso martini, expect a sugar-rush, these (as with most alcohol) are still FULL of sugar! You’re allowed a treat though, right?

Funnelled into a Kilner clip-top bottle, with a rustic brown tag and tied in a raffia bow, it could make a perfect present!

To Make the Decaf Coffee Liqueur

500ml water
150g white sugar
150g demerara sugar (or just 300g of sugar, I thought I’d be fancy)
3-4 tbsp instant decaf coffee (depending on how strong you would like it)*
200ml Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum (or any other dark rum)
Vanilla extract/1 x vanilla pod

*Quantities may be slightly different for freshly ground coffee.
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Put the water, sugar(s) and coffee into a pan and bring to the boil, simmer for about 15 minutes. Do not add the rum until the mixture has cooled, as the alcohol has a lower boil temperature than water. Add the rum and the vanilla or vanilla pod and stir once cool and decant into an airtight bottle. Leave to rest for 2-4 weeks before serving (it’s the kind of thing that gets better with age), occasionally giving it a shake/stir/mix. If you’ve used a vanilla pod, remove after no more than 4 weeks.

Bottle it up and label. If you’re going to be making a lot of liqueurs or syrups, it’s a good idea to label what you’ve made!

To Make the Decaf Espresso Martini

50ml vodka (I’ve used 7 times distilled and filtered Lithuanian Vodka)
35ml homemade decaf coffee liqueur (Made using the recipe above)
25ml cold decaf espresso
Ice.

Fill your martini glass with ice to chill, pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake the crap out of it to make the creme top. I’m expecting a fantastic creme from Carly & Leon as I’m sure they have exceptional upper body strength! Empty the martini glass and pour your cocktail through a strainer. Garnish with decaf coffee dust, hot chocolate, vanilla or Star Anise (pictured).

Katie’s Taki Bar

It was about time I showed you around my pride and joy of my entire house. A true centrepiece to any party and a half-decent conversation topic. My home bar, named “Katie’s Taki Bar”, a twist on the good old tiki bars. You don’t need a fancy cocktail cabinet, antique globe or oak cabinet to have an equally as impressive and functional home bar, maybe you’re lacking space, funds or you live in a rented property (like me). Here, I give you, a piece of flat pack and functional furniture that I’m sure every blogger is familiar with, an IKEA BILLY bookcase.

The inspiration came to me when I came to view the flat. It was originally occupied by two lads who had the bare essentials in the furnished property: TV, xbox. As I looked around, there were two bottles chilling on the otherwise empty bookcase, albeit a bottle of nearly finished Malibu and some Aldi’s finest Cream liqueur. That idea lightbulb that everyone tends to dread with me lit up.

I’ve always had a passion for mixology. At the time of moving in, I was working for a hospitality group with a number of bars and restaurants. This meant I was surrounded by great mixologists whom I call friends, so when I was joking about having my own bar shelf they quickly gave me a lot of inspiration (think full on Miami Vice). Some even donated equipment from their own personal collections!

A few months on, the bar shelf is no longer a shelf but almost the entire corner of the room. Over the months, Christmases, birthdays and friends in duty free, my collection has grown from the tackiest possible decor you can imagine, to some interesting brands of different booze.

I tend to have a mixture of branded and Aldi alcohol. I find this works as I often have people round for a tipple, night cap or full-blown cocktail party. It also seems to work to have a rule of “If you bring a bottle (and leave it), I open the entire bar. Many a-memories have been had already.

For my birthday, my sister gave me an engraved martini glass and some tacky sunglasses. It sits pride of place in front of my copper shaker and copper ice bucket, the flamingo filament lightbulb in the copper hold was one of the first things I bought. You may ask why I have coins stuck in wine corks in a Hendrick’s Gin tea and saucer set? It’s a family tradition to stick a penny (or in this case, 5p and 10p – inflation) in the cork of your first bottle of champagne at age 18 and 21.

My friends, Kieren and Sarah bought me the personalised “Katie’s Taki Bar” sign spelt exactly for my birthday, I am SO happy with it. I must mention the Newcastle Pub Stops framed poster, I got it from my mam Santa for Christmas. Again, such a conversation topic whenever anybody comes round, including decorators! I tried to keep the L-shape serving space I had for my most recent house party, but I think that might have just tipped my housemate over the edge.

Other nicknacks include the Luxe Lounge stainless steel cocktail compass, my nana and grandad’s crystal glassware (they’re meant to be used, at the end of the day) and all the other bits and bobs you might be able to see on there. If I’ve missed anything you want to know about, just drop me a tweet! The bar grows and changes CONSTANTLY.

I am ready for any themed get together. Have you seen the latest from my 1920s Gatsby themed party recently? What do you think I should get next? I can’t wait to share my cocktail ideas with you…

…So, what’s your poison?

A DIY Murder Mystery Dinner Party.

The best thing about an idea to have a murder mystery party to celebrate my birthday is that I can bring back one of the best events of the year – in Spring. Halloween. A little party never KILLED anyone…

I bought a murder mystery story online for about £30 but I wanted to still put my own twist on it by doing some DIY projects to make it my own. I always had the impression that murder mysteries could get quite boring with people just sitting around a table, people might not stay in character and it ends up just a Q&A. No. Not on my watch.

Firstly, I am friends with a theatrical, confident bunch who are all comfortable with taking the piss out of themselves in front of each other so staying in character was not a problem. In fact, they were in their characters the week before and the week after the event. Hilarious.

Characters.

The story had 14 characters made up of 7 females and 7 males but I had 9 females and 6 males wanting to play. I took a male role of barman and my friend Natasha took the role of Bebop B’doo, telling the rest of the party that the two B’doos will be sisters not husband and wife. I decided to scan & send the character info to my guests beforehand so they were prepared with their character’s bio and storyline.

I also made a list of random names for any other friends who wished to attend so I could make them “decoy characters”. For example, I named my cousin/friend Chris “Tatty Bojangles” the poker dealer. When each character were introducing themselves at the beginning of the night, he had even made up his own story to tell the group (he was in the same union as Casey Stumbles, Catsby’s butler). Later in the evening, the original Booboo B’doo was called into work (in 1920s flapper dress!) so the next thing I saw was Chris dressed up to take over the role, also returning the B’doos back to husband and wife (but gender reversed).

Setup.

Rather than have all 14 characters (and then decoy characters) sitting round a table with a three-course dinner, I decided to have a three-course buffet instead. This meant that we had people free to act out their characters at a dinner party rather than sit around. The only problem was that it meant we were asked the same question more than once, which, wasn’t really a problem.

The game was led by the audio files included in the set, which I created a giant Spotify playlist full of 1920s music into a radio show, “Radio Alibi” WITH adverts! The radio then came on for each act (and in turn, course) to move the story (and the meal) along. I put in about an hour’s worth of songs for each course, but skipped ahead if people seemed to be finished with that act’s questions.

I also had plenty activities available. I made a Photo Booth with 1920s props, a poker table and had my fully-functioning home bar, a true centrepiece to the evening (post on my home bar coming soon). The poker table was actually perfect (and a coincidence!) for Bebop B’doo’s character, where it was later revealed that he/she had a gambling addiction!

DIY.

I did a couple of DIY projects to put my own spin on the evening. These included an £8 Photo Booth, ‘dead man’ napkins, evidence bags and photo cards for the buffet table.

I created some ‘dead man’ napkins using just liquid white chalk, card and an interesting familiarity with silhouettes of dead people. I created the stencil and dabbed away at the edges on the corner of black napkins while I watched an entire episode of Saturday Night Takeaway, then I decided I had done enough. These were a little added touch to the buffet table, which I decided to take quite gothic with bleeding candles, crime scene tape and low light.

I had also created photo evidence card out of yellow card and a black sharpie to number the food on the buffet. I had three starters, three mains and three desserts for the courses of the evening and so creating nine evidence cards and printed the ‘menu’ with each meal corresponding with a number. I had that also on yellow card with a desk light shining onto it in a police-interrogation style. Again, this added enough light into the room (as well as about 30 tea lights and the bar) to give a great atmosphere.

I also created evidence envelopes with each character’s name on, to give to each person upon arrival. Inside, were their character bio and information, a ‘menu’ of questions to ask others in each act and a little card to say whether they were the murderer or not. Again, I feel like this was a nice added touch that gave the whole night a great feel.

Another great feature was the photo booth. It cost me all of £8. I bought some 1920s themed props and spent about 30 minutes putting them together one evening, put a gold tassel wall up and switched on my day light. I didn’t need to set up any fancy camera, everyone just took pictures or selfies on their phones. My friend, Natasha, is also the person you usually avoid on a night out due to having a camera in your face so she naturally took on the role of taking pictures. She even downloaded other people’s photos and put the vintage-look filter on them and re-uploaded them to Facebook. I’m really glad I did that as we have something to remember our characters by – even though I’m sure we’ll see Gray Catsby, Harvey Wallbanger, Farley Hatpin, Greta Garbled and co. again!

“Stay Tuned” for further posts coming your way about the killer DIY cake and a post (maybe series) about my home bar – le pièce de résistance of my entire home!