Our family celebrated Thanksgiving this year in the most incredible way. If you follow a farmgirl’s dabbles on Instagram, you’ll know that we were in warm and sunny Mexico. And if you know me at all, you’ve learned how I love to come away from any experience with a memorable recipe or two to make at home. It’s such a fun way to revisit a vacation or special event, and always brings about great conversations and reminiscing in our kitchen. This Mexican Coffee, so unassumingly included on a dessert menu at our resort, proved to be the perfect grand finale to a wonderful meal our first evening in Mexico. I knew this had to be replicated back home!
My entire family – to include my parents, plus both sisters and their husbands and kids…15 people total – blocked a week off on our calendars to fly south for a vacation together. It’s the first time we’ve ever done something of this magnitude. And I think I can speak for all of us, that if we found a few extra coins hiding in the couch cushions, we’d pack our bags today to do it all over again!
We flew from Minnesota to Cancun, and then our family filled a small bus and rode about an hour south to our Mexican Riviera Maya home, Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort. This was my first total beach vacation in a tropical location. I’ll readily admit that I’ve always been a beach vacation naysayer, although I’ve always loved spending time at the lakes in beautiful northern Minnesota and camping at South Dakota State Park lakes. But when I think about planning a vacation outside of the Midwest, it’s rarely about spending a week at the beach. I love to go new places, to explore, and to basically go, go, go all the while I’m away, taking in as much as I can of each new area. So I’ve always viewed a week at the beach as (sadly) a waste of time and money.
I was only about 12 hours into sand-between-my-toes and swimsuit-is-my-only-daytime-attire before I realized how wrong I’ve been all these years.
I’m convinced. There’s simply no denying how beneficial a tropical beach vacation is. The big blue skies, filled with warm and embracing sunshine, plus the sparkling Caribbean Sea and its silky soft sand…it’s the very best relaxation therapy for both mind and body, and such a wonderful way to get out of our daily grind and reconnect with beloved family.
From the moment we arrived at Puerto Aventuras Resort, it was evident that delicious beverages were going to play a big part in our vacation. I joke that we were all on liquid diets while we were there. Just steps off the bus, we were greeted with flutes of sparkly fruity drinks (top row, left) and champagne. And then, from morning until night, a beverage routine was formed that followed us through the week. Our family ordered room service after rising each morning, always with fresh pineapple juice and coffee (middle row, left). And then we ventured to the poolside cafe for plates of sweet fresh fruit and omelets made to order, accompanied by more coffee, fresh fruit smoothies made to order, and possibly a mimosa or Bloody Mary. During the morning hours there was a smoothie bar next to the pool that all of us grew quite fond of (lower row, right). And throughout the day, the resort’s amazing little Coco Cafe kept all the adults happily caffeinated with specialty coffees, both hot and cold (lower row, left).
The poolside/swim-up bar was a fascination for us all. Shortly after noon one day, I asked my youngest niece how many Pink Panthers (basically a virgin piña colada with strawberry syrup added) she had drunk so far that day. She rolled her eyes skyward, counting in her head, and then cheerfully replied, “Six!!”
Drinking a tequila sunrise with my sisters, over the crashing waves at the barefoot beach bar…it’s a memory I’ll always cherish, a stolen moment away from the high energy afternoon pool time.
And here, at El Patio, is where the magic of the Mexican Coffee took place. One of five restaurants open for dinner in the evenings, El Patio served up delicious Mexican cuisine. It was located just steps from the crashing waves (top row, left) and included its own tequila bar (bottom row, right). I enjoyed a most tender and delicious chicken mole under that fabulous thatched roof (top row, right), and am thinking I’ll need to experiment with making mole at home now, too!
When we were looking at dessert options at the end of our meal at El Patio, it never occurred to me to try the “Mexican coffee”. But then my husband questioned our waiter about it. He told Blake, “You will like…very hot.” Blake doesn’t give out his trust for free, but there must have been something about the guy’s simple assurance that struck a chord. Both Blake and my brother-in-law ordered a Mexican coffee. And within a few minutes, a large cart draped with a colorful striped Mexican cloth was rolled up next to our table. Torches were lit and glasses were prepared. We were in for a show!
It’s hard to tell the story with the few dimly lit photos I have here, but believe me when I say the whole restaurant was turned in the direction of our table, all of us being thrilled together. Tequila, Kahlúa, and star anise liqueur were heated to flaming and then poured back and forth between hot metal vessels, flowing streaks of electric blue in our table side magic show. This went on for quite some time. There were “ooooohhhh’s” and there were “aaaaahhhh’s”. And then the alcohols afire were poured into stemmed glasses of strong coffee topped with whipped cream. That’s where the “very hot” comes into play! A stemmed cherry was left to sit in a spoon of flaming alcohol over each glass, and then the coffees were served. Everyone was entertained by the coffee antics, but the Mexican Coffee itself was especially lovely. The waiter was right. It was hot. And Blake did like it.
If you ever visit Mexico and see an unassuming listing of “Mexican Coffee” on the restaurant’s dessert menu, don’t take it lightly. Just order it. It’s definitely delicious, and quite entertaining. Or…if you simply can’t wait, try my version. It doesn’t come with a flaming side show, but it is still pretty darn tasty.
Yield: 1 serving
- 1 fresh lime wedge
- 1 oz. tequila
- 1/2 oz. Kahlúa coffee liqueur
- 1/2 oz. star anise liqueur
- 1 c. hot strong brewed coffee
- freshly whipped sweet cream
- maraschino cherry with stem
Moisten the rim of a wine glass with the lime wedge. Pour a bit of sugar onto a small saucer and then gently press the rim of the wine glass into the sugar to create a sugared rim. Add tequila, Kahlúa, and star anise liqueur to the glass, then pour in the coffee. Top with a couple big spoons of whipped cream and a cherry. Enjoy immediately.
From a farmgirl's dabbles. Inspired by the Mexican Coffee served at El Patio at Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico.