We always love experimenting with our coffee drinks where we put in a lot of spices and crazy stuff to it, but a favourite by many and it’s our favourite too is the mashup of coffee and cocktail drinks. But perfecting a coffee cocktail drink is a little tricky because it requires a keen sense of taste, and a refined palate.
Bartenders and baristas these days are exploring this two drinks, according to coffee cocktails specialist Martin Hudák, “both baristas and bartenders have a lot to learn from one another, and he sees it as his job to try and bridge that gap between the two.”
Martin Hudák added the most important component of a coffee cocktail is the coffee. “The coffee has to be good. It’s a ‘coffee cocktail’, not ‘cocktail coffee’,” he said with a laugh.
“The quality of the coffee determines the quality of the drink itself. It’s the same for other drinks. For a good Old Fashion, you need good whiskey. Gin and tonics … 80% of it is the tonic!”
“If you use a bad coffee, you’ll ruin the experience. It might taste overly burnt or bitter. You want some fruity, citrusy flavours in your coffee. At the end of the day, coffee is a fruit, and it should taste like a fruit,” he said.
Martin Hudák added the most important component of a coffee cocktail is coffee. “The coffee has to be good, it’s a “coffee cocktail”, not “cocktail coffee,” he said with a laugh.
Irish coffee was invented back in the 1940s, at Foynes in Ireland. This coffee cocktail is made by combining brewed coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar syrup, and cream on top that looks a pint of Guinness.
Back in the days, Pan American passengers used to stop in Foynes before travelling across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States was served a cup of coffee with a shot of Irish whiskey added to it. Passenger asked what coffee it was, and the chef name Joe Sheridan said “Irish coffee.”
Hudak said, “You need a stronger coffee because once you add sugar and alcohol in it, it needs more flavour to come out. I use filtered coffee – espresso is not good for Irish coffee because of the crema (the foam that sits on the tops of espresso). So when you put the cream on top of it, it doesn’t look good.”
“What you want to achieve in an Irish Coffee is a beautiful layer of light cream on top and black coffee. So, the cream is also very important. It cannot be too heavy or it will fall into the drink, and it can’t be too liquidy or it’ll mix with the coffee. It needs to be the right balance. Every country has different cream, and for my competition last year, I sourced cream from one single cow!”
And as for the whiskey, Hudak said he prefers the original recipe using the Irish Whiskey. “These days, you get bartenders experimenting by using other Scotch and even rum or cognac. Personally, though, I prefer my Irish coffee with Irish whiskey,” he said.
For the Espresso Martini, this cocktail coffee drink was allegedly created by bartender Dick Bradsell in the late 1980s, when a female customer asked for something that would “Wake me up, and then (expletive) me up.”
Espresso Martini is a combination of espresso, vodka, coffee liqueur, and sugar syrup. And because this drink uses vodka, Hudak said that the coffee and the coffee liqueur play even more important roles in this drink.
“You need a really good coffee for this drink. If you have one that is too bitter or with no flavour, then it wouldn’t be good either,” he said.
“A good coffee liqueur is also very important. The commercial ones tend to be too sweet, but these days you can get a lot of crafted coffee liqueurs made with specialty coffee beans.”
The Espresso Martini is one of the favourite classic drinks for many, but according to Hudak, “the classic espresso martini is a little boring.”
There’s nothing really special about the espresso martini. It’s just coffee, vodka, and sugar. It’s like sugary coffee with vodka!” he said, “I respect the creator of the cocktail, but for me, it’s one-dimensional,” he added.
Because of that Hudak made his own twist of the espresso martini by putting more flavours to it, and calling his creation the “Espresso Martiki.”
“I wanted to take this classic drink and make it more modern. So I thought to myself, ‘What spirit has more flavour than vodka? Rum!’,” he said.
“Instead of normal sugar, I use almond syrup to give it a more nutty flavour, a good shot of espresso, and pineapple juice to make it taste more tropical.”
“I want to spread the idea that coffee cocktails can be lighter and fresher too. You can use juices, or tonics to make it a longer drink … just do something different! I want to inspire bartenders and baristas out there to create more new coffee cocktails,” he concluded.