Back in the late 1980s, it was a novel thought that vodka and espresso could work together. Thirty years on and it’s surprising this compatible combo weren’t blended together sooner!
So how did this icon of late night revelry come about? Well, it was created by UK bar-tending guru Dick Bradsell in a trendy Soho Brasserie called Fred’s Club. So the story goes, a well-known model walked into Bradsell’s bar and demanded something that would “wake me up and [err, muck] me up”. (You get the gist, we don’t need to spell it out…).
Bradsell’s solution? Vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso and a hint of sugar for balance. The result was a bittersweet base topped with a thick, frothy crema.
Bradsell named the drink The Vodka Espresso and then The Pharmaceutical Stimulant. Thankfully neither name stuck, and he’s never revealed the identity of the now-famous model, though speculators suggests it was Kate Moss.
Over the following decade the drink grew in popularity among the bar elite and then, with its popularity peaking in the UK, the espresso martini found its way Down Under thanks to relaxed visa programs which opened the door for intrepid UK bar tenders.
Here in New Zealand the cocktail has been a firm fixture in brasseries and bars for the last decade, and the recipe’s used can vary wildly, as can the quality. The gold standard mark of any cocktail, like any dish of food, is balanced flavours. No less true for the espresso martini, flavour profiling shows that vanilla coupled with a quality espresso can be magic so an expert tip is to add a careful measure of vanilla liqueur to your cocktail in lieu of any sugar.
You’ll create a greater depth of flavour that will hero the coffee and impress those you choose to share this sumptuous late-night libation with.
Here’s how to make an extraordinary Espresso Martini in 4 easy steps:
3 parts* Vodka
3 parts* Cold Brew Coffee
1 part* Espresso Liqueur
1 part* Vanilla Liqueur
3 coffee beans to garnish
* 1 part equals approx. 15ml
The key to getting that frothy crema is a) a quality Cold Brew Coffee which will release lots of natural oil and b) not over diluting with lots of ice.
1/ Combine ingredients together in a shaker with 2-3 cubes of ice
2/ Shake till the ice can no longer be heard
3/ Strain into a Martini glass and a sumptuous crema top will emerge
4/ Garnish with a trio of coffee beans (for health, happiness and prosperity!)