Tia Maria is a dark liqueur made originally in Jamaica using Jamaican coffee beans. The main flavour ingredients are coffee beans, Jamaican rum, vanilla, and sugar, blended to an alcoholic content of 26.5%.
The historical fable of its origins dates it to the 18th century. A young Spanish girl was forced to flee Jamaica, and the family plantation during a conflict. She was accompanied by a sole servant who carried a bit of jewelry and the recipe for the family liqueur. In honor of the woman's help, the girl named the liqueur "Tia Maria" (tia is Spanish for "aunt"), her name for the woman who had helped save her life. One account of its history says that a man named Dr. Evans discovered the drink after World War II, and he began reproducing it. This story of Dr. Evans devotion to the drink is part of the official website's history, however. According to some sources, it was actually created in Jamaica in the 1930s. The Jamaican company Lascelles supposedly manufactured the concentrate from which the liqueur was made, at least, up until the time it was sold by Pernod.
The Tia Maria brand was bought by Pernod Ricard through their Malibu-Kahlúa International subsidiary in 2005. It was sold to Illva Saronno in July 2009. Following the sale, Chivas Brothers produced it for Saronno before production was transferred to Illva Saronno's distillery in Saronno, Italy. Bacardi U.S.A., Inc. distributed it in the U.S. for Saronno. As of Aug. 1, 2012, Kobrand became the distributor.
It can be consumed pure and with ice, but is also frequently used as an ingredient for cocktails (of which the Espresso Martini is popular), with coffee, or in desserts (such as the layered liqueur-whipped-cream-and-cookie confection known as Tia Maria torte, and Tiramisu). It may also be mixed with milk and ice.