How (not) to perfect your Espresso Martini

09 June 2023

Expresso Martini
The infamous origins of the Espresso Martini start in the 1980s, when a famous model waltzed into Dick Bradsell’s London bar and asked for something to “Wake me up…” Dilton Sales, mixologist at Clube do Barman and barista by training, shares his 7 tips for preparing a perfect coffee cocktail.
Don’t... just add coffee to a Martini

Don’t be fooled! ‘Martini’ is a reference to the glass it’s classically served in, not the type of vermouth or cocktail. Mix espresso with vermouth at your peril.

First things first, you need espresso

The coffee needs to be espresso, but not necessarily freshly brewed. What matters most is the quality of the grain. Good coffees make it possible for their essential oils to create the desired texture and creaminess in the cocktail. If there is no espresso machine where you work, other options include soluble coffee or cold-brewed coffee.

Do the reverse dry shake

Shaking the drink in a cocktail shaker without ice after the traditional shake (reverse dry shake) is
essential to create the aeration, foam and flavour typical of a perfect Espresso Martini. After making the regular shake, with ice, strain the drink and make a dry shake to aerate the drink and mix all the ingredients evenly.

Coffee liqueur is essential

The recipe already has a dose of espresso, but the liqueur is also an important ingredient for the structure of the drink. Kahlúa is commonly used to add sweetness and greater density to the cocktail.

Simple syrup is optional

If the coffee liqueur already adds sweetness to the Espresso Martini, do you need to add anything else? The answer is: it depends. When working with coffee, it is common to find variations that are more or less sweet, more or less acidic, and with different aftertastes. Before starting the shift, taste the espresso that will be used that day and analyse whether it will be necessary to sweeten it with simple syrup.

Get creative with your garnish

It is common to see Espresso Martinis served with some coffee beans as a garnish, yet many bars don't have enough coffee to decorate each cup with various beans or create unusual presentations. In these cases, the basics work just fine. You can create motifs on the foam, or use cinnamon, cardamom, marshmallow or even a twist of Sicilian lemon or Bahia orange.

Choose a balanced spirit

When working with an ingredient as special as coffee, it is important that the distillate does not steal the show. So make sure you choose a fairly neutral and balanced vodka.

Start to experiment

Replacing neutral vodka with a flavoured one makes it possible to create decent versions of the Espresso Martini that can add value to your cocktail menu. Absolut Vanilia, for example, brings sweet vanilla notes that have an affinity with the coffee flavour.

Espresso Martini recipe

40 ml of Absolut Vodka
20 ml of Kahlúa coffee liqueur
20 ml of espresso coffee (hot and fresh)
(Simple syrup to taste)

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice, shake the mixture – first with ice, then without – and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass or coupe.

Based on original article from Clube Do Barman

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