Start drinking espresso martinis before Shoreditch serves them in mugs
It’ll rescue your night at 1am
The espresso martini was born in the 80s – but it took some time to get into its stride.
When Soho House opened in 1995, it became the elite’s signature pick-me-up – though fast-forward 20-odd years, and the appeal is more universal. PR girls claim it as their one and only after work drink; girls get them at boozy brunches (drunch).
It’s a potent mixture of Kahlúa, espresso and vodka, garnished neatly with three coffee beans floating on top. The concoction will make you think about sneaking voddy into your latte: it shouldn’t taste as good as it does – you don’t even like creamy cocktails – but the rich, indulgent taste (like dessert, except furiously alcoholic) will turn Friday nights into marathons.
The espresso martini’s origin myth plays out just so: Soho barman Dick Bradsell was asked to make a drink for a female customer that would “wake me up, then fuck me up” (it was the 80s). And that’s what it’s done ever since. The bars that serve the best ones are furtively swapped by fans: Soho Grind uses Chase vodka and sugar syrup, and White Lyan in Hoxton mixes a “Bulletproof Martini” (tequila, distilled coffee, Square Mile coffee oil and vanilla). Subterranean date spot Rev J W Simpson does an Espresso Kopi Susu (it uses rum instead of vodka) and serves it ice cold.
Best sipped slowly, you’ll spot girls running manicured fingers round the rims of those deep cocktail glasses, propped up on barstools in swanky bars on a Friday night. The drinks are always on offer in some budget cocktail bar, but the girls who drink espresso martinis aren’t the ones snapping up two cocktails for £10. An espresso martini is a celebration of the weekend, not the female equivalent of four pints on a Thursday night down the pub as you drag yourself through to the weekend.
It’s a smooth blend of coffee and vodka not intended to be slugged as soon as you get out of work: there’s a very specific time and place for one, and seasoned espresso martini drinkers know it all too well. Ease yourself in with a few glasses of Prosecco or wine, and – when the lull hits just after midnight – that’s when you order. The instant hit carries you through the night – one is usually all you need.
Currently, espresso martinis are the best drink in of London. Order yourself one before Shoreditch bars start serving them up in mugs. Then you know it’s time to move onto something else.