It is perhaps Australia’s most popular (and divisive) cocktail, and while it’s safe to say we’ve well and truly reached a saturation point, the public’s affinity for espresso martinis shows no signs of abating any time soon.

Once the province of dimly-lit cocktail lounges serving ultra saccharine and cream-laden versions, the high octane tipple has well and truly been brought into the light. Building on the synergy between Australia’s robust coffee and cocktail culture, the drink is enjoying something of a prolonged renaissance in bars, cafés, restaurants and homes across the country, thanks in no small part to its egalitarian combination of our two national pastimes (amplified by a ‘I’ll have what she’s having‘ mentality) and the convenience of at-home Nespresso machines.

Proof of its popularity isn’t simply anecdotal but largely quantifiable. Festivals in both Sydney and Melbourne devoted to celebrating variants of the aptly indefatigable drink sell-out in minutes. Speciality bars are devoted entirely to espousing its merits, and forward thinking entrepreneurs have wasted little time ensuring their wares are made readily available on tap and pre-bottled formats. No longer considered by many to be a persistent hangover from the late 80s, the espresso martini has fast become a canvas on which bartenders desperate to remain at the forefront of their craft (without sacrificing profitability) can experiment with new, slightly more exciting formulations that stay true to the cocktail’s original tenets: vodka, coffee liqueur, simple syrup, and a shot of freshly pulled espresso.

One such version prepared by The Barber Shop’s Mike Enright capitalises on another perpetually on-trend favourite – salted caramel – to create a subtle twist on the cocktail that substitutes vodka and liqueur for gin and campari without losing the all-important zing. The integral coffee component comes courtesy of a freshly pulled Nespresso Ristretto shot, the strong roasted notes of which are softened with chocolate undertones that pair well with the addition of chocolate bitters. Simple syrup is then substituted for caramel syrup enlivened with a pinch of rock salt; the Ristretto’s acidic and fruity notes echoed again in a vibrant orange zest garnish.

The result is a fresh take on a tried and tested favourite that tastes unmistakably of the present – a new contender for the crown of Australia’s national drink.

Salted NEspresso Martini
45ml Bombay Sapphire Gin
40ml Nespresso Ristretto
15ml Campari
10ml Caramel syrup
1 Pinch rock salt
2 Drops Chocolate bitters

Add all ingredients into a shaker with cubed ice. Shake six times and strain into another shaker. Dry shake four times and pour into a chilled Coupette glass garnished with orange zest.

espresso martini tile
Credit: E Michael Wolf
This cocktail features Nespresso’s Ristretto. Intensity 10. Shop Nespresso Ristretto here.

Motion: E Michael Wolf
Talent: Mike Enright
Location: The Barber Shop

Tile and cover image: E Michael Wolf