The 1980's and early 90's was the heyday of the flavored martini. Every flavor and recipe under the sun was served in a chilled cocktail glass and either called a Martini or took the name and added the -tini to the end. Appletinis, Lemon Drop Martinis, Peppermint Mocha Martinis, I am sure even a Pumpkin Spice Martini, were all part of the rainbow of cocktails in fancy glasses. They all used some form of liqueur to get the flavor across, which also helped give them their garish hues. The 80's (so I have been told) was a hell of time to party. There was tons of drinking and other delights as economic and cultural restrictions from the 70's were eased and everyone relaxed a little. Some people used stimulants to keep awake and partying as long as they could. Others just gutted it out, going for as long as they could. This is another reason cocktails of the 80's were what they were; their function was to get you drunk, not to have balanced or nuanced flavors. Anyone who has had a Kamikaze or Sex on the Beach can tell you that.
One of these partiers stumbled into the London bar that Dick Bradsell was working. He is a legendary bartender in his own right, so when this figure asked for a drink that would "wake me up and *expletive* my up", he came up with just the thing. He sat it on the back of what all good 1980's cocktails were made from, vodka, and added a shot of espresso to keep the woman rolling and some Kahlua to mellow the bitter coffee flavor. It must have done the trick. There are not too many cocktails that survived untouched from that era. But with something so simple, how do you improve on it?
Espresso Martini (by Dick Bradsell)
2 oz./ 60 mL vodka
1 oz./ 30 mL espresso
.5 oz./ 15 mL coffee liqueur
.25 oz./ 7 mL simple syrup
Glass: Chilled cocktail
Garnish: Three coffee beans
Pour all of the ingredients into a mixing tin. Add ice, and shake vigorously until foamy (up to 60 seconds). Strain into the cocktail glass, and garnish with the three coffee beans.
Delightful. Coffee on top of coffee. You really need to be a coffee lover for this one, because that is the only flavor you are getting. The bitter espresso and the sweet liqueur is lovely together, though I may get rid of the simple syrup for more coffee in future iterations. Maybe even substitute it for Baileys. I usually rail against martinis like this one, preferring only the classic gin concoction to bear that name. But considering the era it came from, I can give it a pass. Very, very, very good.