Espresso Martinis Are A Crime Against Cocktails

The martini was once a simple cocktail — gin or vodka, a bit of vermouth, and perhaps a little olive brine or a twist of lemon. Yet, from the once trendy cosmopolitan to the sweet lemon drop martini, it has seen no end of variations. Recently, one of these adaptations has had a massive resurgence in popularity — the espresso martini. However, the truth is the espresso martini is a bad cocktail. It was when it was invented in the '80s, and it is now. 

The basic espresso martini recipe includes vodka, coffee liqueur, simple syrup, and espresso (if you can call it that). It's then shaken to create a beverage that is at once overly bitter and cloyingly sweet. No matter how many high-end cocktail menus this drink ends up on, it remains an affront to this coffee lover and hooch enthusiast. Even beyond its offensive taste, it's also a recipe for a jittery, anxious buzz that is sure to be followed by a terrible hangover. 

It's a bad buzz

No doubt you've heard that it's not usually the alcohol that gives you a hangover but the sugar. The espresso martini has no shortage of sugar (sure to leave a mark), thanks to the typical inclusion of simple syrup and coffee liqueur. Still, espresso martinis pack a double punch because they also contain a ton of caffeine, and when you're ingesting a stimulant during a drinking session, you're more likely to stay up later, which makes you prone to drinking way more alcohol than is advised. Ultimately, the espresso martini is a glorified vodka-Red Bull. Don't get it twisted; there's nothing wrong with enjoying a cocktail or even an occasional big night out, but drinking beyond your limit, especially when combined with sweetened liqueurs and coffee (a diuretic), is rarely worth it and will leave you with a whopping hangover. 

If the hangover isn't enough to put you off, the fact that the espresso martini doesn't make for a pleasant buzz anyway should. Why would anyone want to experience an anxiety-inducing level of caffeine that is usually reserved for Monday mornings on a night out? Booze is great for encouraging a little relaxation, but the espresso martini is in direct opposition to that. Trust us, save the energy boosters for the a.m. hours.

Don't count on bars to serve decent coffee

Would you go into your local pub for your morning latte? No? Then why count on it to make a decent-tasting espresso when your martini is involved? More often than not, you're probably getting served a mix of powdered instant coffee or ultra-cheap coffee pods, and with espresso martinis generally costing a pretty penny, you don't want one made with low-quality ingredients. 

Some bars and cocktail lounges may have an espresso machine, maybe even a high-end one, but these aren't magic automated coffee makers. Take it from a professional who worked in specialty coffee. A lot of effort on the bartender or barista's part goes into making the espresso taste good. It's unlikely that your bartender is extensively trained to pull decent shots, as these machines are complicated. 

Of course, there's always the chance that your bartender is trained, but let's be clear: It's unlikely they're taking the time to make sure everything is perfectly dialed in between slinging pint glasses full of beer and popping bottles. Imagine working for tips and having to wait a full minute for a single ingredient in a complicated cocktail. There's good reason for bartenders to hate espresso martinis. So, rather than take your chances on some dodgy espresso, why not order another cocktail and save coffee for the morning commute where it belongs?