What is the story behind the espresso martini?

Answered by Christopher Steppe

The story behind the espresso martini is an intriguing one that involves a young, aspiring supermodel and a talented bartender named Dick Bradsell. It is said that this iconic cocktail was created in 1983 when the supermodel approached Bradsell's bar and requested a drink that would wake her up.

Bradsell, known for his innovative and creative approach to mixology, took up the challenge and set out to create a cocktail that would not only wake the young lady up but also satisfy her taste buds. He began by reaching for , a neutral spirit that would provide a strong base for the cocktail.

To add some sweetness and depth of flavor, Bradsell added a to the mix. This choice was a stroke of genius as it not only complemented the vodka but also added a rich and decadent coffee flavor to the cocktail. It is worth noting that the specific coffee liqueur used in the original recipe is often debated, with some sources claiming it was Kahlúa and others suggesting it was Tia Maria.

But what truly sets the espresso martini apart from other coffee-based is the addition of a shot of freshly pulled espresso. Bradsell utilized the espresso machine next to his bar station to extract a delicious shot of intense coffee flavor, which he then incorporated into the cocktail. This infusion of espresso gave the drink its distinct wake-up call, providing a jolt of caffeine that would surely keep the young supermodel alert and energized.

The resulting cocktail was a revelation, marrying the notes of coffee with the smoothness of vodka and the sweetness of the liqueur. Bradsell garnished the drink with a few coffee beans, adding a touch of elegance and visual appeal. The supermodel was delighted with the creation, and the espresso martini quickly gained popularity among patrons, both for its taste and its invigorating qualities.

Since its creation, the espresso martini has become a staple in bars and cocktail lounges around the world. Its popularity can be attributed to its unique combination of flavors, the allure of coffee-infused , and its ability to provide a much-needed pick-me-up during late-night outings.

In recent years, variations of the espresso martini have emerged, with bartenders adding their own creative twists to the classic recipe. Some may incorporate different coffee liqueurs, experiment with flavored vodkas, or even introduce additional elements such as chocolate or spices. These variations help to keep the cocktail fresh and exciting, appealing to a wide range of palates and preferences.

The story behind the espresso martini is one of innovation and the desire to create a cocktail that not only satisfies the taste buds but also provides a burst of energy. Thanks to the creativity and skill of Dick Bradsell, this iconic drink continues to be enjoyed by coffee and cocktail enthusiasts alike.