You’d be hard pressed to find a bar that doesn’t have an Espresso Martini on its menu nowadays, and rightly so, but coffee has a lot more to offer when it comes to cocktails.
Elegant in its simplicity, fun yet sophisticated, the Espresso Martini – created by legendary London bartender Dick Bradsell in the 1980s – is quite deservedly having a moment, and long may that last. But coffee is a versatile cocktail ingredient, and bartenders have recently been finding new and inventive ways to mix with it, in all its forms.
The most natural approach, avoiding the reinvention of any wheels, is to remix the ubiquitous classic. The Espresso Martini lends itself well to being modified, whether it’s swapping the vodka out for tequila or rum, or pretty much anything else, revisiting the coffee component, or even the sweetener.
At Christina’s at The Mondrian in London’s Shoreditch, their version makes use of a rum infused with banana peels, by sustainable spirits brand Discarded, sweetened with just a touch of honey syrup. Meanwhile at the new Daroco Soho, their take is made with cold brew coffee and a brown-butter vodka, sweetened with both tonka syrup and a clarified banana syrup.
The Espresso Martini isn’t the only classic coffee cocktail that bartenders are taking inspiration from. There’s the timeless Irish Coffee, which tends to be modified and improved, rather than entirely overhauled. At Schofield’s in Manchester, the usual sugar is replaced by a honey syrup, and their cream is infused with vanilla.
The Carajillo, a Spanish invention, has its devotees around the world, but nowhere more than in Mexico City. Simplicity in itself, this is a combination of espresso and Spanish liqueur Licor 43, served over ice. At Viajante87 in London’s Notting Hill, their shaken version adds a little Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur to the mix.
Meanwhile, some bartenders are taking things further, beyond the classics, and exploring coffee’s full potential as a cocktail ingredient. Take the Guns of Brixton, a drink from London’s Hacha, which focuses instead on green coffee beans, and then introduces coffee flavour via a caffeine-free chicory cold brew.
Flavour and balance
‘Coffee has a stigma of being the highlight of a drink instead of being complementary,’ says Tristan Carvalho of The Cocktail Trading Co (see below). ‘I’ve always preferred to approach it as a flavour enhancer, or something to balance a drink, the way bitters are used.’
Coffee and cocktail consultant Dan Fellows, agrees. ‘Coffee can be used as a supporting or secondary flavour to bring new levels of complexity and balance to drinks, either complementing or contrasting the other ingredients in the drink.’
There’s also more to coffee than the bean, according to Fellows. ‘Cascara, a byproduct of coffee production that can show flavours of dried fruit and Port, is now being used to bring natural sweetness to drinks, and even coffee leaf is becoming an ingredient to explore, with a flavour profile closer to tea.’
Coffee cocktails to try at home
If you want to venture beyond the Espresso Martini, these recipes are arranged in order of complexity, from easy-to-make to cocktails that require more preparation with homemade syrups for example.
Recipe from Viajante87, London
‘We wanted to showcase a Carajillo because of the ritual it holds in everyday life in Mexico City,’ says Pietro Collina of Viajante87. ‘It’s a treat people indulge in at any point of the day, and you won’t find anyone in a group having one by themselves. It’s a reason to pause and slow down for a beat, similar to the coveted espresso break in Italy.’
Ingredients: 45ml espresso, 30ml Licor 43, 15ml Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
Method: Put all of the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled tumbler.
Banana Espresso Martini
Source : https://www.decanter.com/spirits/coffee-cocktails-beyond-the-espresso-martini-516986/