Have You Tried The Espresso Martini?

If you fancy yourself a bit of a reveler or love late-night outings, you likely have a favorite drink to complement your evenings. You may enjoy a Bloody Mary or prefer a Manhattan, but have you ever considered the mighty Espresso Martini? If not, you may have unintentionally avoided one of the tastiest late-night drinks. But it’s not too late to become acquainted with this sophisticated cocktail much of the hospitality industry has ignored for too long. 

Sadly, many bartenders seldom show much appreciation for this cocktail due to its complexity. Thus, it takes longer to prepare than its counterparts and often requires more effort from bartenders and mixologists. However, due to its growing popularity over the past five years, many bars and cocktail lounges have it on the menu.  

But why the sudden interest in this cocktail? While the Espresso Martini is not a new drink, it has enjoyed a resurgence with the art crowd and trendsetters. It emerged like a tsunami from the hippest and wildest dive bars in the East Village, Manhattan, rapidly becoming the choice drink of urbanites. And there’s hardly a bar in New York that can keep the roving packs of tech geeks and fashion models from ordering the hit drink. 

Now, you may be wondering if the craze behind this cocktail will soon fade out. After all, fads come and go quickly in cities like New York. Yet, the trend has remained constant in London and Melbourne. And that’s due to the strong cafe culture and demand for high-quality coffees in these cities. And it seems that Australian and British expats fly the flag for tasty Espresso Martinis in New York — and here’s why you need to do the same!

When Did The Espresso Martini First Appear? 

The origins of this cocktail are a bit murky, but the most credible claim goes as follows. In the late 1980s, in London’s trailblazing Soho district at a private nightclub known as Fred’s Club, one of the female patrons made a unique request. The fashionable lady, apparently a model, requested a drink from the famous bartender — Richard Arthur Bradsell — that would, in her own words, “Wake me up, and then f**k me up.”

Bradsell quickly concocted a cocktail by using a nearby coffee machine, coffee beans, and vodka as the foundation for the drink. Similarly to today, vodka was massive in London’s nightlife and social scene. So, it wasn’t a surprise that vodka became the main ingredient. But the addition of coffee was a stroke of last-minute genius.

So, did Bradsell’s quick invention do the trick? A hazy evening in 1980s London laden with exquisite cocktails, cocaine, and synthpop could do anyone in. But given the explosive popularity of the Espresso Martini back then and now, it seems that Bradsell’s quick thinking paid off. 

But Does It Taste Good?

The Espresso Martini’s apparent on-the-fly origins may be a point of concern. But it’s also a product of its time and place, meaning it’s somewhat avante-garde and refined. It also boasts a cool factor since it emerged from Soho’s night scene when Culture Club, Depeche Mode, and Pet Shop Boys blared from radios and nightclubs.

And that brings us to the taste, which is exquisite, smooth, and sophisticated. It may even seem like a rather luxurious drink to some. In short, it’s the perfect drink to consume while listening to melancholic futurepop in a room full of beautiful people. 

While all this may sound good, it only tastes good if correctly balanced. And that’s because espresso has a strong and bitter taste that requires a counterbalance. That’s where a high-quality coffee liqueur like Tia Maria or Kahlúa comes in, as it will add sweeter notes to balance out the bitterness. 

Then, there’s the vodka, which must also be a premium brand to give the cocktail a reasonable degree of kick and silky texture. It’s common practice to add sugar, but many bartenders will add syrup by default. Furthermore, it’s crucial to get the ingredient ratios right, as that’s key to a great-tasting Espresso Martini.

Does This Cocktail Pose Any Risks To Health?

Yes, like most alcoholic beverages, drinking an excessive amount of Espresso Martinis will harm your health. You should avoid drinking it if you suffer from caffeine sensitivity, given the espresso required for the cocktail contains about 63 mg of caffeine. The caffeine in your system will increase considerably if you drink two or three cocktails. That’s hardly ideal if you plan to go to bed soon after consumption.

There’s also a danger of consuming excessive alcohol due to the combination of vodka and coffee liqueur. On average, the vodka in a typical Espresso Martini recipe is about 40 percent alcohol, and the liqueur comes to about 20 percent alcohol.

While it’s lighter than the average martini, the caffeine may pose a risk. And that’s because alcoholic beverages combined with caffeine make drinkers think that they’re less intoxicated than they actually are.

How To Make A Tasty Espresso Martini Like A Pro

You’ll need the following ingredients before you prepare your cocktail:

  • A cocktail shaker
  • Ice cubes
  • Cocktail glass (must be chilled) 
  • Two ounces (59.15 milliliters) of a locally distilled, craft vodka
  • One ounce (29.5735 milliliters) of cold or freshly brewed espresso
  • Half an ounce (14.79 milliliters) of coffee liqueur (Kahlúa is the most popular choice)
  • Half an ounce (14.79 milliliters) of simple syrup
  • Coffee beans as a garnish

Now that you have all these ingredients in one place, it’s time to prepare your beverage as follows:

  • Place the ice cubes inside the shaker.
  • Pour the vodka, liqueur, espresso, and syrup into the shaker.
  • Seal the shaker and shake it vigorously until it feels chilled to the touch.
  • Remove the seal, then strain the beverage into the chilled cocktail glass. 
  • Add the garnish consisting of three coffee beans on top of the froth.
  • Serve your tasty caffeine cocktail, and enjoy! 

The Bottom Line

Espresso Martinis may not be new, but their resurgence makes them seem novel. They appeal to coffee lovers and drinkers who prefer smooth and sophisticated cocktails. If you’re one of those enthusiasts with a refined taste that constantly stays ahead of the curve, check Distillery Nearby regularly for up-to-date info about cocktails and distilleries. 

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