In 1986, Lyons resident Rick England began tinkering with family Kahlúa recipes. He was looking for a homemade gift idea, but he ended up stumbling on something much bigger: a full-fledged company.
Although his home-made hooch wouldn’t become a business for more than 20 years, his friends and family knew he was onto something. By 2011, England’s liqueur production had gotten out of hand. “I was brewing 120 gallons of the stuff at home. It was a very expensive hobby,” he laughs.
In 2012, England partnered with Lyons’ Spirit Hound Distillers, and Richardo’s Decaf Coffee Liqueur was born. It’s since racked up a slew of awards (including double gold at the 2015 Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival). In honor of National Kahlúa Day (Friday, February 26), we caught up with England to get the scoop on his local liqueur.
5280: Was it challenging to transition Richardo’s from a hobby to a business?
RE: Well, yeah. Most of the people here [in Lyons] got it for free for 25 years. It was never meant to be a product. But the plus side is that everybody already knew about it.
How would you describe Richardo’s to someone who’s never had it?
It’s sort of like a cross between Bailey’s [Irish Cream] and Kahlúa, which we refer to around here as “the K-word.” It’s a blend of coffee and vanilla.
Is there a reason you make Richardo’s with decaf coffee?
I learned early on when making the liqueur that the caffeine made it more bitter. It was so bitter that you had to amp up the sugar. Using decaf coffee allows me to use less sugar. Also, having no caffeine makes it different from the other stuff out there.
Other than the obvious white Russian, how do you like to drink it?
There’s a place in town here called Smokin’ Dave’s [BBQ and Taphouse] and they make a drink called the Lyons’ Root, which is hard root beer, vanilla vodka, Richardo’s, and whipped cream. It’s pretty dangerous. My favorite way to drink it at home is in a toasted almond cocktail: equal parts Richardo’s, amaretto, and coconut milk. I drink it in a martini glass.
Are there other ways to use Richardo’s?
We’re actually getting a cookbook together now, because Richardo’s is awesome in recipes. We’ve got a recipe on the booklet on the bottle for the Richardo’s cake. I’ve been making the cake so long that it’s practically a requirement that I bring it to the town meetings now.
Find Richardo’s at Front Range liquor stores and bars, or at Spirit Hound Distillery.
4196 Ute Highway, Lyons, 303-823-5696