The Perfect Espresso Martini
Terry Cashman, bartender and project manager at specialist drinks agency, Sweet & Chilli, reveals how to make the perfect Espresso Martini using his five golden rules.
Author: Terry Cashman
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
THE ORIGINS OF THE ESPRESSO MARTINI
Cocktail legend has it that Dick Bradsell created this cocktail for a future supermodel in 1983. He mixed her a drink using vodka, sugar, coffee liqueur and a shot of espresso, pulled from the coffee machine next to his station. It’s a story that has helped the drink retain an edginess that many modern cocktails have failed to replicate.
Drinks have a life of their own once they become popular; however, due to the popularity of naming drinks based on the glass they came in, the drink soon passed into the public consciousness as the Espresso Martini.
ESPRESSO MARTINI RECIPE
With a history that’s almost as rich as the drink itself, the Espresso Martini is a staple on any cocktail menu. First invented by the legendary bartender Dick Bradsell in 1983, the Espresso Martini, initially christened the ‘vodka espresso’, is made up of 4 main ingredients: a fresh espresso shot, sugar, coffee liqueur and vodka.
A true Martini should, in fact, contain gin and vermouth, but along with many drinks in the nineties, the drink went on to adopt the suffix “Martini”.
CREATING THE PERFECT ESPRESSO MARTINI: 5 GOLDEN RULES
There are many variations of the Espresso Martini, but following some golden rules can ensure a perfect cocktail every time. Read Terry’s five top rules to master the Espresso Martini recipe to a T.
ALWAYS USE FRESH ESPRESSO
Creating a good quality, well-made shot of espresso is essential. Once made, allow the coffee to cool down slightly, as this will prevent too much ice dilution.When deciding on which bean and roast to use, always use the roast that your customer prefers.
SHAKE HARD - DON'T STIR!
The most satisfying part of a good Espresso Martini is the crema; the foamy, silky layer of tight bubbles that sit on the head of the cocktail. The natural oils in the coffee must combine with air bubbles to form the delicate froth, and the best way to achieve this is to aerate it with a good shake.
BE FLEXIBLE WITH THE SUGAR
Not everybody likes sugar in their coffee. A barspoon of sugar syrup will be fine for most palates, but if your customer likes their coffee very strong tasting, then feel free to leave it out. Remember, the perfect Espresso Martini is the one your customer enjoys most.
USE A HIGH-QUALITY VODKA
Obviously, vodka has a large part to play in the Espresso Martini. You need a quality vodka that can stand up to the coffee, and to bring something to the flavor profile other than just alcoholic strength. The clean taste of Smirnoff No. 21, with its subtle hints of pepper and charcoal, make it a great choice to use in an Espresso Martini.
COCKTAIL PRESENTATION IS KEY
It’s rare to see an Espresso Martini served in an actual martini glass these days, as the inward curve on the rim of a coupette is a much better way to showcase the crema and is less likely to spill over the edge of the glass. Three coffee beans, delicately placed on the crema to form a petal arrangement, add to the coffee aroma in the cocktail.
Use your new skills
Now you know how to make the perfect Espresso Martini, why not mix it up and try our three of favorite twists on the original:
- The Espresso Martini is a staple on any cocktail menu.
- The drink was first invented by the legendary bartender Dick Bradsell in 1983, initially christened the ‘vodka espresso’.
- The five golden rules for making an Espresso Martini are: Always use fresh espresso, shake hard, don’t stir, be flexible with sugar, use a high-quality vodka and drink presentation is key.
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