Food & Drink

You Can Make Hot Cocktails in Your Keurig... But Should You?

Cask & Kettle

If the thought of making an Irish coffee by lifting a bottle and pouring java, Irish whiskey, and heavy cream into a mug sounds exhausting, boy have we got news for you! Michigan-based Cask & Kettle created two boozy hot cocktails -- Irish Coffee and Spiked Dry Cider -- specifically for use in Keurig machines. You simply place the tiny cup in a Keurig and out pours a piping hot cocktail with booze in it! But just because you can, should you? We tried both of these hot Keurig cocktails, and here’s what we thought.

First, here's how it works

If you’re wondering, “Why the hell would anyone need this product? Preparing Irish coffee and spiked cider is so easy!” Counterpoint: this is America. We’d willingly sit in our cars in a drive-thru for 15 minutes even though it’d be faster to get out of the car and buy a Big Mac inside. Similarly, it’s way easier to put a K-cup into a Keurig machine and wait. And how the booze gets into your mug is fairly noteworthy.

Whereas coffee K-cups are filled with coffee grinds, Cask & Kettle single-serve cocktails have  liquid inside. “When you put [the cup] into the brewing system, the liquid begins to flow out right away and the hot water (which never reaches boiling) ‘washes’ the remaining liquid out of the pod/cup and into the mug,” explains co-founder Lucinda Wright. “You’re adding hot water to roughly an ounce of liquid alcohol(s) plus concentrated flavorings which have been optimized to create a fabulous tasting Irish Coffee or Spiked Dry Cider.” She said developing the recipes and finding a distillery who could fill up tiny cups with booze took about a year, but now they’re finally on the market. And here's how they taste.

Kask & Kettle hot cocktails
Courtesy of Kask & Kettle

Dry Spiked Cider

I don’t like to read directions. IKEA never made a product I didn’t assume I could figure out how to put together, and then subsequently screw up. To my credit: I didn’t think a hot cocktail would come with directions. Normally you put a K-cup into a Keurig and out comes coffee. Not here.

First attempt
I didn’t let the water pre-heat in the Keurig. When I put the cup into the dispenser, it spilled lukewarm booze into my cup without any hot water. This felt like taking a road trip to see a waterfall, only to be ushered into a room to watch a guy turn on the faucet in a bathroom sink. Derp.

Second attempt
The water heated! The cocktail box says you can water the drink down by selecting 10oz or make it boozier at 6oz; the company recommends 8oz. I follow the company’s advice, and… success! Hot water and booze come out at the same time! Getting this to work feels better than when I walked at my college graduation.
I love the way it tastes. It does indeed taste like dry cider -- cinnamon and booze flavors are present -- and there’s no artificial aftertaste that you’d get from a malt beverage trying to fake an apple flavor. Probably because there are no artificial flavors. But wait… the box says you have to shake the cup before you brew, mix it with a spoon after it brews, and then wait between 1-3 minutes for it to cool?! Shit.

Third attempt
I forgot to shake it. SHIT.

Fourth attempt
Ok, the Keurig said it was preheating, but I already had the K-cup in there, so it leaked out the entire pod while I was waiting for the hot water to heat up. Just like the first attempt!

Fifth attempt
There are five pods per box, so I had a fifth, umm, shot at this. I shake it. I stir it. And I wait one minute for it to cool. You definitely want to mix it! The apple notes are less intense than they were previously, probably because I finally followed directions. This is damn good for a cocktail coming out of a Keurig machine, and I feel a nicely warmed up from it… and from sipping on the previous four attempts. The cinnamon flavors add some complexity to the drink, and you can’t taste the booze for the most part. It smells fantastic. What more do you want from a cocktail?

Kask & Kettle hot Irish coffee
Courtesy of Kask & Kettle

Irish Coffee

After screwing up the Dry Cider, I don’t need five takes to get this thing right. I shake the ever-loving hell out of this, stir it, and wait a minute two. I’ve got high hopes because the pleasant aromas coming out of the Keurig are making me want Irish coffee. If the coffee is subpar, I’m going to be bummed out. But it has Irish whiskey and vodka, so maybe I won’t even taste it at all.

My fears are realized: there’s too many competing flavors in my mug. Whereas the apple cider went down very easily, this doesn’t quite work. I don’t get quite enough roasty coffee notes, and I’m left with lingering artificial flavors. Whereas the cider has no artificial flavors, the Irish coffee does. This is desperately in need of cream, which takes away from the complete cocktail thing they’re trying. But if you’re in a pinch and want something quick and easy to drink on those cold winter mornings, it’ll do!

Are hot Keurig cocktails worth it?

The box retails for around $12-15 depending on the retail location -- currently they’re in stores in Missouri, Michigan, and California, and are working on expanding to other states. At ~$3 a cocktail, that’s a decent value. While the cider hits the mark, it might be worth it to brew yourself a strong cup of coffee, pour in some Irish whiskey, and add heavy cream (or Bailey’s, if that’s your thing). Or add cream to this Keurig cup version.

Overall, this is a fascinating development in the pre-made cocktail game. Wright says they’re working on three new hot cocktails that should release by mid-next year, so this is just the start of the hot cocktail infiltration into American coffee machines. And potentially the end of people spending time pouring multiple liquids from one container into another.

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