By Ginger DeShaney
You can have your cake … and drink it, too.
Thanks to Riley Mahan’s creativity and flavor-making skills, you can buy cakes, cupcakes, and macarons made with booze … and love. Welcome to Riley’s Drunk Kitchen.
Her cake flavors include:
- Espresso martini (Bailey’s, coffee, and espresso)
- Coconut rum
- Mudslide (Bailey’s and Kahlua)
- Bourbon and caramel
- Chocolate and Guinness
Frosting choices include:
- Rum chata
You can also get booze-less cake (chocolate, vanilla, funfetti, lemon, and Oreo), cupcakes, and macarons. All of her cookies are booze-less.
Riley’s Drunk Kitchen was born out of quarantine and boredom.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Riley has been working from home full time as a program manager for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s pediatric clinic. When she wasn’t working, “The boredom set in. I needed a hobby,” she said.
She saw so many posts about people baking bread. “What can I do that’s different,” she thought. She bought her first Kitchen Aid and tried to bake a cake. “I can do that,” she said, noting her grandmother was quite the baker.
Riley, 28, had never baked before. “I don’t even like sweets,” she said.
Riley’s first foray into baking for others was for a fundraiser. Her boyfriend, Tom Garland, is bar manager at Fat Baby. At the time, everyone was trying to come up with fun and creative ways to raise money. Fat Baby was doing takeout through the window. Riley had the idea of making cupcakes to raise money for the restaurant staff through the window.
She baked cupcakes based on the flavors of Fat Baby cocktails. “From there, I was like, well, I can just put booze right into it. So I started making cupcakes that had booze baked right into them … in the cake, in the frosting.”
Over four weekends — where she sold out three of the four weekends — she helped raise $1,100 for the staff at Fat Baby.
“It was a cool way for me to contribute,” she said.
She started an Instagram account called @RileysDrunkKitchen and posted photos of her creations. “I started my Instagram out of fun; I wasn’t trying to start a business out of it. But people started DM’ing me: ‘Hey, can you make me a cake?’ ”
Riley’s Drunk Kitchen “became a thing” in June 2020. “It’s been a crazy little start to this business,” she said.
Riley finds basic recipes and then subs out ingredients and adds the booze. She has a real knack for knowing what will work. “I ran into some luck with it,” she said.
Her most popular flavors are espresso martini, a chocolate cake with a full cup of Bailey’s topped with a Bailey’s buttercream frosting, and prosecco, which is a white, fluffy cake. “The prosecco makes the cake really airy and light,” she said.
While she has a menu of flavors, she’ll also do custom orders. “Any time someone texts me, ‘Have you ever done a cake with this?’ I’ll say, ‘No, let’s do it.’ I’m always trying new things.”
Riley had a Valentine’s Day Special where people preordered a Valentine’s Day box that included cupcakes, macarons, and cookies. She made 45 boxes or so. “That was really cool,” she said. “That was a huge weekend for me.”
She’s also working on a collaboration with a local florist.
Riley does all her baking in her small Southie kitchen. There’s not a lot of counter space and the ceiling is slanted (her apartment is in what used to be an attic). “But I make it work,” she said.
While working full time during the day, Riley often bakes late into the night, sometimes as late as 3 a.m. And always by her side is her 6-month-old Dalmatian, Fowler (named after golfer Rickie Fowler).
“He is constantly in the kitchen when I bake,” she said. “He likes to keep me on my toes when I’m baking. He’s by my side 24/7.”
Tom is her official taste tester and helps with the dishes.
Riley counts herself lucky to have been able to work from home for the past year. But how does she handle her regular job and her side hustle?
“I’m basically not sleeping sometimes or waking up early to do that,” she said. “But it’s worth it. It’s been really fun to do this. I’m more than happy to go a couple hours without sleep.”
For the most part, people DM Riley on Instagram or email her with their orders. She doesn’t have a website but she gets plenty of orders through Instagram. When people place orders, they usually come to her to pick them up.
In her free time, she’ll bake up batches of her sweets and drop them off at Loco or Fat Baby or Lincoln to give people something yummy, a surprise. “Everyone loves a little treat,” she said.
“This community has done a lot for me,” Riley said about giving back. She used to waitress at Lincoln and has made a lot of great friends here. “I’m thankful to live here. Whatever way I can help, I want to help.”
To get in touch with Riley:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @RileysDrunkKitchen