Espresso Martini?

Just when you think you’re the consummate coffee connoisseur, along comes the espresso martini, an enticing brew of espresso coffee, Kahlua, and vodka. While coffee is hardly a newcomer to the bar – Irish coffee has been around for ages, and the Black Russian wouldn’t be a Black Russian without Kahlua, the espresso martini gives it a sexy new persona together in a whole new sexy way. But then what would you expect of a cocktail created in a London bar when a top fashion model issued an X-rated challenge to the barman? The barman, as bartenders are called in Great Britain, rejoiced in being able to tap his creative side. Rather than serving up brew after brew (as in ale or lager) he served up a brew of a different breed – a shot of espresso, a shaker of spirits, and voilà – the espresso martini came into being. And in case you’re wondering, yes, it fulfilled the model’s wishes.

How to Make a Busy Bartender Cringe

While that London barman rose to the challenge, it must have been a slow night because the espresso martini was not a quick fix. It’s easy to make, but you need a freshly-made yet cooled espresso for the best results. Sure the bartender can use strong coffee. But would that be an espresso martini or a coffee martini? Plus coffee would not give it the same rich sensuous pillow of foam that comes out of an espresso machine. – Then there’s the vigorous shaking – half a minute at the bare minimum to break up the ice in the shaker to bring the drink to near-freezing. And oh yeah, it’s best to freeze the glass before the pour because once it’s garnished and looks tantalizing, unless it’s served cold, the espresso froth will begin to collapse.

And that’s why although your bartender will smile, lay a napkin down on the bar, and say “one martini espresso coming up” inside, he’s cringing, especially if it’s a busy Saturday night. 

Martini Hacks

There are a few things you can do to ensure your espresso martini will have a marvellous crown of foam even though a professional bartender might not have time for them. And one of them is right in your refrigerator.

Egg Whites

Because an egg white is composed of water and protein, whipping it with air will trap thousands of air bubbles, to give you foam. Shaking it in a cocktail shaker will eventually make it foam up, but if you’re looking for an airy egg white foam that stands up to the task of topping an espresso martini, you need to give it a dry shake.

If you’ve never heard of a dry shake, it’s simply a matter of shaking the egg white by itself in the shaker for 15 seconds before adding the ice and continuing to shake until the egg white foams to a consistency of your liking. The important thing to remember is to make sure the espresso isn’t super hot because if it is, the contrast in temperatures will deflate the foam you worked so hard to create. And when you’re ready to pour your espresso martini into chilled martini glasses, don’t dawdle. A swift brisk pour through the shaker’s strainer is necessary to send the foam cascading out of the shaker to land atop your picture-perfect cocktail. 

Immersion Blender

If dry shaking isn’t your thing, maybe an immersion blender is. Using one small enough to fit in the shaker will whip the foam up quicker. Just be careful to stop the blender as soon as the foam reaches its peak. They’re more delicate than they look, so you don’t want to rip through them.

Can you Use Brewed Coffee Instead of Espresso?

The answer is you can but why? Coffee beans and espresso beans are not the same.  Even the strongest dark roast coffee bean lacks the natural oil content you see in the oily sheen of an espresso bean. So they don’t provide the flavor, consistency, and body you want in a shot of espresso that will stand up to the vodka and Kahlua. 

The Take-Away

Sometimes you need a drink to mellow out. Other times you need a caffeine boost. Well, the espresso martini gives you the best of both worlds. It will pick you up and mellow you down. But don’t feel that you have to trek down to your favorite watering hole or wait until the company is coming to visit now that you know how to whip one up in your kitchen.