A London cocktail born and bred, the Espresso Martini is the soul of a good night out, and if you’re not ordering one then someone else in the bar is.
But when you break the iconic cocktail down there’s not a lot to it – we’re talking about fresh espresso, coffee liqueur and vodka. That smack of flavour and bolt of energy all comes from the two versions of coffee you’ll find in the drink, be it steamed, pressed, sweetened or all of the above.
So, if you’re looking to go beyond the usual bar call of an Espresso Martini and add some variation to your drinking diet, try these:
Spiced Rum Espresso Martini – A Simple Twist
The easiest way to add a bit of oomph to your Espresso Martini is to chuck out the vodka and see if it still manages to tickle your taste buds with another spirit. A slightly aged tequila or a tasty rum are your best options, nicely wrestling with the coffee to dominate the cocktail rather than providing a boozy blank canvas. Head down to Bar Swift on Old Compton Street (recently named best new international bar by the booze industry’s biggest award ceremony) and try their twist using demerara sugar and a homemade spiced rum base. It’s sublime.
Midnight Snack – Liquid Dessert
Think of an intoxicating version of your morning almond croissant and cup of coffee and you have the Midnight Snack. Coming to us from the Experimental Cocktail Club, this winter feast is a flip using egg, orgeat, coffee liqueur, tawny port and bourbon, topped off with the added delight of a grated butter cookie for the garnish. It’s definitely what you hope for when raiding the fridge in the early hours of the morning. Order after dinner instead of an Espresso Martini and you’ve neatly doubled up on digestive and dessert. Genius!
Coffee & Cigarettes – Smoky Booze
This one is for the serious imbibers. Invented by US bartender Thomas Waugh Coffee and Cigarettes is also a twist on the Rob Roy and calls for 12-year Caol Ila Scotch whisky, coffee liqueur, sweet vermouth and chocolate bitters. It’s a spirituous, powerful sipper pairing smoky booze with the bitter-sweetness of coffee and it goes down a charm – if you drink like a New Yorker.
Black Jack – Sharp and Fruity
Long before London had the Espresso Martini, Jacques Straub recorded this cocktail in his 1914 recipe book Drinks, calling for cognac, kirschwasser (clear cherry brandy) and cold coffee, served with a sugar rim. A modern update to the recipe has been immortalised by New York bar PDT which takes the sugar from the glass and adds it back into the mix. The PDT team also suggest using a local coffee blend steeped for 12 hours. Ultimately, the Black Jack is a fruity, sharper version of the Espresso Martini, but still combines that important combination of caffeine and booze to keep you buzzing.
Patriota – Mint Chocolate and Coffee
One of the winning cocktails from the global cocktail competition run by Bacardi each year, this drink is practically guaranteed to be great. Submitted by Laura Marnich who was working in Dubai’s Zuma at the time, it uses Bacardi’s light rum, Fernet Branca, fresh espresso and chocolate cream liqueur making for a mint chocolate version of the classic Espresso Martini. It’s basically the After Eight twist.
Vodka Espresso – An Original Over Ice
A Vodka Espresso is the original Espresso Martini, invented in 1983 in London. This was in a simpler time before beards, braces and the Martini glass had all made a come back. The Vodka Espresso has the same recipe as the now classic cocktail but was served on the rocks. So if you’d like your drink a little colder, or have any strange hang-ups about stemware offending your masculinity then try ordering one of these instead.