By Chloe Osborn featured in Nocturnal Magazine
Liquor.com / Todd Coleman
The espresso martini, the must-have drink to ensure a good time by simultaneously waking you up and keeping you up, is a combination of people’s two favorite things—coffee and vodka. The drink single-handedly has supported a vibrant nightlife for decades leaving a mark on the hearts and taste buds of coffee lovers, cocktail enthusiasts, and partygoers alike who have had the pleasure of experiencing it.
Many of us have been influenced to try the viral espresso martini, which recently has been featured all over our social media feeds. The exquisite blend of the bitter and acidic flavors of espresso coupled with the smoothness of vodka has become a symbol of cosmopolitan culture. As one begins to order, the bartender likely slightly groans and returns the request with a facial expression begging to please order something else because he probably has already made hundreds throughout the night. Some of the best nights have started in a bar with a sip of an espresso martini and ended with an extremely large tab we quiver at while closing.
The ambiguity surrounding the origins of the martini has contributed to its virality. The story goes legendary bartender Dick Bradshell invented the modern classic when a supermodel, speculated to be Naomi Campbell or Kate Moss, requested a drink that could, “wake me up, then fuck me up.” Bradshell on the spot grabbed his magic silver shaker and began incorporating fresh espresso, vodka, coffee liqueur, and sugar together. Little did anyone at the time know, Bradshell had just created a drink that would do precisely that and from there become a staple in bars across the globe.
With the recipe being so standardized, it leaves a great desire to find one that is different from the rest. Good Night Kenny in Poughkeepsie, NY is home to a note-worthy espresso martini that contains a very subtle twist, both literally and figuratively. Not only does this bar serve an array of exceptional drinks, with every sip leaving you wanting more, but it also has a euphoric ambiance. Furthermore, stepping into Good Night Kenny. One is met with the harmonious sound of glasses clinking, the laughter of friends, and exceptional music.
While espresso martinis are typically made with a shot of fresh espresso, Good Night Kenny has opted for cold brew as it possesses the coffee flavor without the overwhelming bitterness of the espresso. The cold brew is balanced by the sweetness of coffee liqueur and sugar. Nevertheless, it is the inclusion of a single expressed lemon peel that takes this martini to a new height. With the first sip, one experiences a delightful hint of citrus, that proves to be a welcoming surprise when paired with the expected coffee flavor. The lemon peel and citrus flavor cut through the richness of the coffee, leaving a smooth finish on the taste buds.
The espresso martini with a twist is a true reflection of the art of mixology. It proves that despite the fact that the original espresso martini recipe is rather simple, little additions like an expressed lemon peel can add a refreshing dimension to the modern classic. While an espresso martini can easily be made at home, it is crucial to consider that to truly experience the delight of the drink, one needs to be in a bar surrounded by friends and strangers predicting the night’s future outcome as there is something so intoxicating about experiencing the drink in a bar where an air of excitement fills the room.