Tia Maria is a coffee liqueur made originally in Jamaica using Jamaican coffee beans. The main flavor ingredients are coffee beans, cane spirit, vanilla, and sugar, fermented to an alcoholic content of 26.5% (alcoholic content as sold has been reduced to 20%).

The drink was invented by Dr. Evans in Jamaica just after World War II. He invited acquaintances from the Country Club in Kingston to try various formulas at his lab until the final version was accepted.

According to legend, the history of Tia Maria started in the 17th century, in the days when colonial wars brought chaos to the Caribbean. During this period, a young woman, owner of a Jamaican plantation, was forced to flee with her chambermaid. In the chaos, her chambermaid just had the time to take her mistress’s most treasured possessions, including a pair of black pearl earrings and an old manuscript containing the secret recipe for the family liqueur. In gratitude and in memory of her faithful “Aunt” Maria, the young noblewoman named this dark liqueur “Tia Maria”.

The Tia Maria’ brand was bought by the industry giant Pernod Ricard through their Malibu-Kahlúa International subsidiary in 2005,for distribution in France. It was sold to Illva Saronno in 2009.

It can be consumed pure and with ice, but is also frequently used as an ingredient for cocktails, with coffee, or in desserts (such as the layered liqueur-whipped-cream-and-cookie confection known as Tia Maria torte). It may also be mixed with milk and ice.

Popular cocktails containing Tia Maria include the terry, which combines the spirit with orange juice, and Jamaican coffee, featuring both Tia Maria and Myers’s Rum. The New Year’s Levee punch served by several Officers’ Messes and Sergeants’ Messes including that of the Ontario Regiment in Canada, is called “Moose Milk” and combines Tia Maria with eggnog and spices.

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