It’s hard to walk into any bar and not see someone nursing an Espresso Martini.
And why not, it’s hard to resist that tempting combination of Vodka, Espresso, and Coffee Liqueur.
But back in the 1980s when Dick Bradsell created the drink, the choice of Coffee Liqueur was minimal at best.
Sure you had Kahlua or the slightly less sweet Tia Maria, and both of these are fine choices, but there wasn’t much more than these. With the explosion of coffee-culture came an explosion of choices.
Today though, it’s a whole different story. Brands like Australia’s own Mr.Black have raised the profile of Coffee Liqueur and as such, it seems there isn’t a distiller worth their still who isn’t experimenting with it.
And why not. It’s actually super easy to make. Basically, you just need to steep grounds in or mix cold brew with, an alcohol base (be it Vodka, Brandy or even Tequila) and then add a sweetener and additional flavourings, like vanilla.
But instead of just catering to the lowest common drinker, distillers are focusing on different styles and blends, and roasting and brewing techniques, to create distinctive flavour profiles.
To get a product that has the richness of a well made cup of joe, many distillers are teaming up with local coffee roasters and exploring a broad range of flavours and techniques.
So how do you navigate your way through the maze of Coffee Liqueurs on offer, well … one sip at a time.
St. George NOLA Coffee Liqueur
Inspired by the rich, luscious coffee for which New Orleans is internationally known, St George has created a dark, complex Liqueur with a distinctive chocolate flavour. With an international blend of Ethiopian coffee beans, French chicory root and Madagascar vanilla, their cold-infusion method captures all the bold, fruity, elegant flavours from the beans, whilst keeping any astringency to a minimum.
Bittermens New Orleans Coffee Liqueur
This New Orleans-inspired recipe is recommended for those who seek a bracingly strong, earthy and aggressively bitter taste to their coffee. A blend of Brazilian coffee beans, French chicory root, Taza chocolate cacao nibs and Belgian-style candi syrup, this Liqueur finishes with a striking bitter punch. This Liqueur is a complex, full-flavoured liqueur that is as intriguing on its own, as it is for cocktail experimentation.
Fair Cafe (Coffee) Liqueur
This sweet, full-bodied liqueur is produced from hand-selected Fair Trade certified 100% Arabica coffee beans, grown in the mountains of Huatusco, Mexico. Viscous sienna brown with superbly lifted, pure and captivating scents of fresh ground coffee, roasted nuts and hints of dark chocolate. A rich, cream-textured and mouth coating delivery features iced coffee, vanilla and fruit’n’nut chocolate flavours followed by suggestions of chico lollies and caramel in the fade.
Mr Black Cold Drip Coffee Liqueur
Opaque deep burnt umber colour with sienna brown edges shows some viscosity. The top note is just-opened-coffee-bag-fresh over heavier aromas of cocoa and cafe creme. After several minutes in the glass, the vibrancy drops a notch and the aroma shifts towards bitter dark chocolate. Creamy texture, light to medium bodied palate presents with rich mocha, vanilla and dark chocolate flavours rounded off by a very gently bitter finish to balance. Semi-sweet coffee and caramel aftertaste.
Applewood Carter’s Original Coffee Liqueur
A project of pure passion that’s taken years to perfect, and we finally did so with the assistance of Johnny Scott (Mighty Mighty Coffee) – who roasts and grinds the beans for this liqueur.
The coffee beans we use are imported exclusively from Mexico, Brazil and Papua New Guinea before being cold-infused into a brandy-based spirit. It’s an intense coffee-hit with vanilla, chocolate and citrus dominant characters – and a dense palate-weight that’ll stretch in your espresso martini.
Stache House Martini
Stache House Martini is a cold extracted coffee specifically designed to created premium quality cocktails. Handmade by a moustache-clad barista with a decade of experience in speciality coffee using a custom blend of four boutique coffee beans. Stache House Martini is perfect for espresso martinis as it produces superior microfoam that will keep your cocktails looking Instagram-worthy down to the last drop.
Patrón XO Cafe
Patrón has created a rare coffee liqueur where you can actually taste the base spirit, XO Cafe is Patrón Silver combined with “natural coffee essence” from southern Mexico. Introduced in 1992, this exhibits subtle agave notes on the nose before finishing pleasantly with flavours of dark chocolate and just a hint of vanilla. More spirit-forward and dry than others in the category, it’s the rare option that’s not too cloying to sip neat.