Let’s face it, it’s hard to go fast the winning combination of coffee and booze. Even as you’re reading this, there is probably an Espresso Martini being made somewhere in the world and you’d probably agree that it’s
But there’s nothing new about this drink. In fact, it comes from a time when Margarite Thatcher was ruled England and bans like the Sex Pistols and the Clash were telling punks to do what they could to combat her.
Invented in London during the 80s by the late, legendary bartender Dick Bradsell, the drink was designed to satisfy a customer who asked for a drink that would first “wake me up, then fuck me up”.
A relatively simple drink, with only four ingredients, Bradsell created the ‘Vodka Espresso’ by mixing Vodka, with Coffee Liqueur, Simple Syrup, and a shot of freshly pulled Espresso. It wasn’t long before this concoction began to be known as an ‘Espresso Martini’.
Rashesh Shrestha, Head Bartender at Stillery in Sydney’s leafy Double Bay, will tell you that this is drink is not just the leading drink they have on their classics menu, it is the most popular drink they serve by far.
“Last time we checked the figures, the Espresso Martini was the number one best seller. In Sydney, it’s really popular because in this city, people like the coffee to keep them up but also the alcohol to give the rush as well.”
The one thing to be careful of is, of course, the coffee. Any devotee will tell you that chilling espresso over ice can shock it into a severe bitterness, which you don’t want and no amount of sweetness will ever really vail that muddy taste.
Shrestha is quick to point out that with so many variations in coffee available, the type of coffee you can make all the difference. “Obviously the coffee is the main part, so whether you use a coffee machine or you make a cold brew, having the right ingredients will ensure you can make a proper Espresso Martini at home.”
Although the coffee can easily mask the taste of an average Vodka, Shrestha believes with such a simple drink you should use the best quality Vodka available. “At the Stillery, we use Belvedere Vodka. If you want a drink that’s higher end in taste and quality, then you can’t go past using a premium Vodka.
Shrestha points out that practically every venue has their own twist on the Espresso martini and at the Stillery, they vary the flavours of their drink with the inclusion of Vanilla Syrup.
“There are other venues that might vary the base spirit or use a salted caramel syrup, we like to use the Vanilla It not only elevates the cocktail but also mixes so wonderfully with the coffee. Nothing beats that Vanilla aftertaste.”
While a lot of bartenders will do a dry shake, followed by a wet shake for a drink like an Espresso Martini, Shrestha does one shake with a minimal amount of ice cubes.
“Doing it this way creates more space in the shaker for the drink itself. By creating more space, you allow for more air, which will, therefore, making it foamier. After all, you are trying to make it look like a proper coffee with a nice creamer on the top.”
45mls (1.5oz) Vodka
15mls (0.5oz) Kahlúa
10mls (0.2oz) Vanilla Syrup
30mls (1 oz) Espresso Coffee
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with a few ice cubes. Shake with long strokes to get the maximum air in, then fine strain into a coupe glass.