Gail Simmons' New Kahlúa Cocktail Kit Is Good Enough To Eat - Exclusive Interview

'Tis this season of holiday cookies and cocktails. This year, Gail Simmons is bringing both to the holiday table with a new cocktail kit from Kahlúa. Simmons is known for her creative and delicious concoctions; this time, she has put a new spin on the classic espresso martini cocktail. Instead of boring, old-fashioned stemware, Simmons has created an edible chocolate cookie cup made entirely of ingredients typically already in the home — so now consumers can have their cocktail and eat it too!

The new kits are available through Cocktail Courier and will include everything needed to make the cocktail, including the muffin tin to make Simmons' cocoa cup and some added trim to help deck the halls. The kit starts at $99 and is perfect for parties or celebrating the festive season, and the espresso martini will certainly give you that needed kick during the holidays. We had the opportunity to speak with Simmons about her newest creation, and she gave us some tips for creating the perfect cocktail for the holidays.

Inspiration and deviation

What is the inspiration for this espresso martini with an edible cup?

I thought it was something fun to do for the holidays. Kahlúa wanted to think of a way to put a twist on their iconic espresso martini, and I thought, "Well, wouldn't it be fun if you can have your cookie-making and your cocktail-making all in one?" We came up with this idea of an edible vessel. I tried many different iterations, came up with this edible cocoa cup — this chocolate tart shell that gets coated in dark or white chocolate — and then you can put your espresso martini right in it.

How many espresso martinis did you have to try before coming up with this?

Let's just say I'm an expert.

What was your favorite or most challenging part of coming up with this version of the cocktail?

I kept the cocktail classic. I didn't want to change anything to the actual cocktail.

The most challenging part was finding a vessel that was actually easy for everyone to make at home. I didn't want to start using elaborate equipment or ingredients that other people didn't have. I wanted to make sure that it was ingredients in everybody's pantry, but also [something] usable and doable that actually held the espresso martini — or else what's the point?

I tried a bunch of different things. I did different cookies, but somehow, they felt a little bit childish. This is a sophisticated drink; this is a serious, adult beverage. I didn't want it to feel cloying or sweet. I wanted it to have a balance and pair beautifully with the espresso itself and with the martini itself. I also tried doing it all in chocolate, but you hold it and it starts to melt on you and your hands get a hold of it. I landed on this cocoa tart shell, and it makes the most sense. It's really doable and useful.

The creation of a new classic

What materials will come in the kit to help people create this?

The Cocktail Courier kit has all the ingredients for the martini itself. There's Kahlúa, Absolut vodka, and packets of good quality instant espresso so you can make your espresso if you don't have [an] espresso machine. Then [it has] everything else you need — the recipe and all the garnishes; there's sprinkles; toasted, crushed hazelnut; turbinado sugar; and crushed candy cane. There's also coasters and napkins and everything you need for decor, and a board to set it all on so that it's easy to make everything. Plus, [it has] the steps and the list of the other ingredients that you need, which are all very basic and you probably already have in your pantry.

It sounds very much like this will be something people can personalize and can decorate themselves.

Absolutely. That was the whole point. The actual recipe for the martini and the recipe for the cup, I give you. Once you have that, I wanted to make it interactive and fun to customize. You can make it with friends — people can do it themselves in terms of the garnish and the rimming of the cup and all these different, delicious sets of items, like the turbinado sugar and the sprinkles and the crushed candy cane.

You can have fun with it. You can make it all in advance and leave the rims open so friends can dip it themselves, or you can do it all and make them beautiful. They work really well. They're fun.

Partnership with Kahlúa and Cocktail Courier

What made you want to do this partnership with Kahlúa?

I'm a fan of the drink. I love that it's having a renaissance. I love that it's made with good care [and] good ingredients, and it's an absolutely delicious drink to drink over the holidays. It was a fun challenge.

I also love a challenge, so when they posed this idea of coming up with a twist and making it some sort of edible cup, that's my wheelhouse. That's what I love to do. It was a fun collaboration.

How long will the cocktail kits be available?

They're available till mid-December to order, and you'll get it in time for the holidays. December 17 is the last [day] to get it in time for the holidays.

Is there anything else that people should know about the espresso martini kit? has everything you need to make not only the cup but the espresso martini — all the instructions. It's a super fun gift to give [during] the holidays, and it's fun to make with your friends, use at home, to give as a host gift. It's a versatile way to celebrate.

Cocktail advice from an expert

What advice do you have for the novice cocktail maker who's attempting this for the first time?

Like anything in the kitchen, have your ingredients organized, plan ahead, set up everything in advance, make sure you have lots of ice, make sure you have everything measured, and have a really good shaker because that is your key piece of equipment. It doesn't have to be a professional cocktail shaker — it just needs to be a sealed jar of some kind that has an opening big enough for ice to come in and out of it. It could be a mason jar, for example, or a water bottle with a big opening mouth. But a cocktail shaker is key. Then you need a strainer if you're not using a proper cocktail shaker.

Then it's following the recipe. When you're baking, if you aren't paying attention to quantity and specifics, then it could not work out so well. You want to make sure that you're actually following the recipe.

For the cups, follow the recipe for the ratio of the cocktail. Remember that cocktails aren't so much about measurements but about ratio, so you can batch up or down depending on how many you want to make. It's one to one to one for an espresso martini, which keeps it easy: one part Kahlúa, one part vodka, one part espresso, over ice shaken vigorously so that when you pour it out into your cup or your glass, you get that beautiful foam that replicates crema. It's part of the allure of the drink.

You can have fun with it, make it your own, and garnish it however you please, whether it's with a traditional garnish of three espresso beans or some turbinado sugar on a rim that sparkles, some chocolate shavings or some toasted nuts — whatever you love.

A great cocktail

What is the best cocktail you have ever had?

Oh my God. I couldn't say. I drink a lot ... not irresponsibly, but I've had lots of cocktails all over the world, and it depends on where I am. In my travels, I have very memorable cocktails that I've had in different places because of the special ingredients and the seasonality of the drink. I don't know if I could ever say one cocktail was the best cocktail I've ever had. I always think it depends on the occasion, where you are, who you're with, and what time of year it is, what you're celebrating.

Is there a secret to making a truly great cocktail?

The secret is taking your time, and as I say, plan ahead. Make sure you have all your ingredients. Don't skimp on the details — that means making sure it's chilled enough and you're shaking it for long enough to get it cold and frosty, whatever drink you're making. When you're talking about the Kahlúa espresso martini, that's key. Then [make sure you're] using the right glass, which always makes the experience much more enjoyable.

Serving it up for the holidays

The kit states that it's great for making it at home but also great for entertaining. Are there any foods you would pair with it?

There's tons I would pair with it. You can pair it with brunch if you wanted to. [If] you're having a fun, festive brunch, do espresso martinis. It goes so well with all of those toasted, mapley, sweet, and delicious brunch items, like a great French toast. It could go great with anything that has lots of nuts in it — a great coffee cake or banana bread.

You can drink it before dinner with some great salted nuts, candied nuts, or dessert, which is what the inspiration was for the stemless cocoa cup. It goes great with all kinds of desserts — anything that plays well with that smooth richness of the coffee drink itself. It could be citrus; it could be other fruit. It could be chocolate or custard or puddings of any kind. Caramel would taste great with it too, or anything that plays well off the coffee. The great part about it is that the cocktail itself is very balanced, so that smooth taste makes it easy to pair with a whole bunch of different ingredients.

Do you have any must-make foods for the holidays?

I have lots of foods I love making [for] the holidays, depending on where I'm celebrating and who I'm celebrating with. In my family, we celebrate Hanukkah, so there's lots of latkes and fried donuts that all go great with an espresso martini. But I always make my mom's brisket. I always do lots of cookie baking around this time of year with my kids. [There are] lots of opportunities for baking and cooking in my house.

Stir it Up With Kahlúa & Gail Simmons: Espresso Martini Kit will be available exclusively from Cocktail Courier from now until December 17.

This interview was edited for clarity.