Aluna, best known for a very decent coconut rum, have made a foray into the coffee liqueur game with Aluna Dark, and very kindly sent me a bottle. Herewith then, some thoughts:
If you know their coconut rum, you’ll be familiar with the way they use coconut – less sweet desiccated flakes and Bounty bar, and more bringing out the nut’s* smooth oily richness, interweaved with toasty notes from its roasting.
The rum base is presumably the same light, clean, white rum as used in the standard Aluna coconut bottling, and brings a hint of sugar cane without getting in the way. This is notably less sticky sweet than the classic coffee liqueurs, though it isn’t thin.
The coffee part comes from cold-brew, so rather than the roasty and bitter edging of an espresso base, you’ve a smooth, fruity flavour profile going on. That comparative gentleness lends itself to a far better integration with the coconut than you might expect – this is a coffee and coconut drink, rather than solely one or the other.
Cacao nibs add a little fullness and complement the coffee, whilst black cardamom starts off subtly, but lingers as a spicy note through the finish, which is sustained by the coconut as the coffee fades out.
As a sipper, this is a pleasing development and sits alongside bottles like the Mr Black amaro, in that it’s doing something just a little different within an otherwise familiar category. Used in place of a Kahlua or the like, this will give you a gentler coffee note, a lot less stickiness and the counterbalancing coconut richness.
As for the obvious question – does it make a good espresso martini? – the answer is yes, definitely. One quirk that interested me was how much less sweet their recipe** came out than any other coffee liqueur I’d used. As someone who is not averse to taking their drinks on the dryer side, this is a plus, but worth bearing in mind for guests who prefer theirs to hew closer to the Bradsell’s original formulation.
*Technically it’s a drupe, but you fans of indehiscent fruit already knew that, I’m sure.
**Espresso Martini per Aluna
50ml Aluna Coconut Coffee Liqueur
Shake hard with plenty of ice and double strain into cocktail glasses. Garnish with a few coffee beans, as the fancy takes you. A curl of toasted coconut flesh instead would look luvverly, but the oils might do a number on that delightful tight head of foam