Some will argue the espresso martini was originally a mashup of an in-the-moment demand on a bartender famous for his skill at ginning up really good creative drinks on the spot.
Others believe the drink was already planned and the same bartender was just really good at seeing an opportunity to try a new idea. Either way, the creation of the espresso martini and its simplistic but powerful ingredients hit the spot just right.
A Combo Depth-Charge
Dubbed the “pick me up” martini, the espresso martini is, as one supermodel put it, something that gives me energy and can knock me on my rear at the same time.
That seemingly diametrically opposed combination was served up with a combination of ice, vodka, espresso, and Kahlua with nothing else. Granted, some finesse after the fact added a bit of dressing with a few coffee beans sprinkled on top, but they do nothing for the actual substance of the drink. On the other hand, recent choices with parmesan cheese, for example, are adding even more flavor.
Choose Your Vodka and Coffee Bean Wisely
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As a primary ingredient, the liquor chosen makes a big difference. Use some generic well-drank vodka, and the espresso martini is guaranteed to taste horrible. Premium vodka is a must, no question about it. This aspect is clearly where a bit of investment pays off incredibly well in the final product.
Additionally, a well-crafted vodka will complement the espresso by matching its strong, bitter taste with the varied aspects of the vodka’s ingredients, much the same way an Irish whiskey coffee works with liquid integration. Bostonians are seeing a run for money in many bars as a result.
A key factor on the coffee bean side as well as the espresso chose. Use a light roast espresso derived from a light coffee bean selection and the taste will fall flat. The better choices are clearly the medium to dark roast for the richest, fullest body espresso mix in the drink. Do not, by any means, try to substitute regular coffee for espresso. While both are derived from a given coffee bean, regular coffee is just too watered down. It will have the effect of diluting the martini versus giving it a rich flavor. Instead, opt for espresso powder if you need to substitute.
Don’t Forget the Process
One of the interesting aspects of espresso martini ingredients when mixed together tends to be the frothing that occurs in the process. This creamy head in a finished espresso martini is a result of both the shaking as well as the involvement of coffee oil, oxygen, and carbon dioxide being released in the various ingredients, particularly the liquids. Add in an additional sugar chemical reaction due to the Kahlua involved, and things can get a bit sudsy. It’s also what makes the espresso martini such a standout from other cocktail choices.
Again, the actual espresso martini ingredients required are not a long list; one can count them on one hand. The beauty of the drink comes in how, with its own chemical synergy, the combined ingredients produce a culinary experience people want again and again in a cocktail.
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This is why the espresso martini continues to be asked for again and again, but you can easily make your own at home as well and not feel left out.