You Don’t Have to Make Your Espresso Martini With Vodka
Reworking a visually appealing trendy cocktail.
I try not to judge other people’s tastes in cocktails.
It is, to be honest, not in my nature to be wildly open-minded about this sort of thing, but I also feel that, in matters of taste and aesthetic preference, some baseline level of openness and affirmation are essential and appropriate.
Other people have different preferences than mine. That’s not just okay, it’s part of what makes the world great. I often learn and benefit from people who have different tastes; quite a few of the cocktails I’ve written about this newsletter are drinks that I only appreciated after reading someone else’s perspective or tasting their approach to a drink. And if I truly think my own opinions are superior — which, naturally, I always do — well, it’s my responsibility to affirmatively make the case for them, to demonstrate their value to other people. Differences of taste and opinion are good and productive and we all benefit from them.
I just cannot find it in my heart or my tastebuds to appreciate or encourage vodka cocktails, and, in particular, vodka Martinis, along with the entire world of vodka-based ‘tini cocktails that enjoyed such prominence in the 1990s. I find myself being kind of judgmental about these drinks. This is almost certainly a personal failing.
But I just cannot figure out the point of those drinks. Vodka is not always completely tasteless, but it’s a neutral spirit that rarely adds much to a drink; it fills space, and not much else. If I’m going to have a strong drink, I want it to taste like, well, something.
Like I said, it’s a personal failing. I promise to do better.
And yet those drinks appealed to a lot of people. And some of them still do. The Espresso Martini, for example, has been subject to a revival over the last few years. It’s a vodka drink by history and by practice. But it’s also got espresso in it, and I do love mixing spirits and coffee. So I’ve found a workaround. I can appreciate Espresso Martinis quite easily just by making them with something other than vodka.