The Story of the Espresso Martini

The Story of the Espresso Martini

It's hard to imagine a bar without the iconic Espresso Martini on their cocktail menu.

Espresso Martini Cocktail
Photo © Sipsmith

But, cast yourself back to 1984 to London's Soho Brasserie and a now world-famous model (rumoured to be Naomi Campbell, no less) walks in and requests a drink that would 'wake me up, and then fuck me up'.

The barman, cocktail legend Dick Bradsell, kindly obliged with a combination of vodka, fresh espresso, coffee liqueur and sugar, shaken into a frothy mix of bittersweet addiction.

Espresso Martini Art Print
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Speaking about the circumstances of his invention of the drink, Bradsell has been quoted saying, "The coffee machine at the Soho Brasseries was right next to the station where I served drinks. It was a nightmare, as there were coffee grounds everywhere, so coffee was very much on my mind. And it was all about vodka back then – it was all people were drinking".

Initially served on the rocks as the Vodka Espresso, it consisted of a double shot of vodka, Kahlua, Tia Maria, sugar and then shaken with very, very strong coffee. Years later at Match Bar he served it straight up as the Espresso Martini. Then it went on artist Damien Hirst's first Pharmacy restaurant under the name 'Pharmaceutical Stimulant'.

Bradsell is credited with revolutionising the London cocktail scene and schooled many of London's best bartenders.

Along with the Espresso Martini he is acclaimed for inventing many new drinks now considered to be modern cocktails, including the Bramble, the Treacle and the Russian Spring Punch.

Espresso Martini Cocktail Print
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Image credit: Sipsmith

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