Vodka seems, at once, like the most logical and most counter-intuitive choice to anchor the Espresso Martini. On the one hand, it acts pretty much as a blank canvas, allowing the bitterness of the espresso and the liqueur’s sweetness to do the heavy lifting. On the other, that lack of complexity feels like a missed opportunity, especially when other spirits such as dark rum have so much more to offer.
“Coffee and rum just go together,” says Jo Gamvros, who co-owns seminal Melbourne hangout Bar Lourinhã with her partner, chef Matt McConnell. Their venue’s take on the ever popular modern classic doubles down on richness with the inspired Iberian addition of Pedro Ximénez. The Spanish dessert sherry not only enhances the taste of both the coffee and the rum, but also imparts layers of toffee, sultanas and dried figs. Throw in a garnish of shaved dark chocolate, and the drink goes to a completely different level.
“It really is the perfect cocktail to finish with,” says Gamvros, “yet, as our customers like to remind us, it is great at any time.”
Chill a Martini glass. In a cocktail shaker, combine 30ml dark rum, 30ml freshly brewed espresso, 15ml Pedro Ximénez and 15ml Lucano Cordial Caffè. Fill the shaker with ice, shake vigorously until well chilled and strain into the Martini glass. Garnish with shavings of dark chocolate.
Note: Lucano Cordial Caffè is an Italian coffee liqueur available from select bottle shops.