A Gift From a Pandemic

 espresso martini

A Gift From a Pandemic

One of the most popular cocktails during the pandemic was not a highly complicated fruity umbrella drink. Instead, it turned out to be a far more subtle drink focused on providing a spirit packaged with caffeine. That came in the form of an espresso martini. It matched food at breakfast, a break at lunch, and a primer for the evening. In short, the drink became perfect for any time of the day while having to be isolated and remote per social distancing.

Fortunately, the pandemic ended along with its social distancing rules. Even better, the espresso martini didn’t disappear either. The popularity created by TV personalities like Josh Gates experimenting with cocktails online only emphasized the drink even more as wider and wider audiences became aware of the mix and its rich, frothy offering.

Nowadays, folks can find an espresso martini in most bars and restaurants, easily listed for $19 to $25, but packed with far more culinary experience and varied taste experiences as well. And variations are starting to appear regularly as well. For example, an option with shredded parmesan cheese added is making waves currently, again redefining the tasty combination of premium vodka, Kahlua, an espresso, and the rich cheese covered in a frothy head. Of course, vodka doesn’t have a monopoly on the approach. Some bartenders are going further and trying out the same recipe but applying other spirits as well.

While the espresso martini was definitely not caused by the pandemic, it was definitely emphasized by our shared isolation. Technically, the espresso martini was created and put into bartending practice much earlier, sometime around the 1980s. According to the story, a supermodel’s request for an energy boost that would also mess her up was the genesis of the creation. The result was a pairing of high-intensity caffeine with solid vodka for a spirit’s effect. Fast-forward to 2023, and there’s even a holiday for the espresso martini now.

Dick Bradsell gets credit for the creation of the caffeinated martini. He was already a well-established bartender and drink creator, so it’s not a surprise he would come up with another winner. Whether his muse was in fact a supermodel needing a culinary kick in the pants or something less exotic, probably won’t be known. However, the espresso martini that Bradsell created definitely found its place and has had permanency ever since.

Today, the drink is as much about its ingredients as the espresso martini is about how it is prepared. Using a rich roast definitely brings out noticeable flavors when applied as an espresso. Matching that with a premium vodka versus a generic supply is also a must to truly appreciate the drink’s liquid power. However, the espresso martini is not hard to make, easily proven by the multiple characters on TV who showed their audiences that anyone can make a good espresso martini at home with the right approach, ingredients, and tools. So, while the pandemic definitely caused a lot of damage, there was a silver lining. We rediscovered the espresso martini, and brought it back from obscurity to popularity.