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Bistro Niko’s boozy Cafe Paris Martini

Wake Me Up Inside

by Henri Hollis | Jezebel magazine | November 26, 2018

The ’90s comeback isn’t limited to fashion. What’s been seen as a forgettable era in American cocktail culture is being reexamined, and the resulting sips add sophistication to the fun-loving trends of an optimistic decade. Take the espresso martini, appearing on menus from Alpharetta to Grant Park.

Back in the heyday of appletinis and mudslides, the espresso martini was treacly and oversweet. Now, at the intersection of craft coffee and bartending, the sugar is toned down in favor of more nuanced flavors. The new wave of espresso cocktails also expands beyond vodka. Around Atlanta, you’ll find them made with rum, bourbon and tequila. Plenty of interesting liqueurs add depth of flavor to these cocktails that could easily be overpowered by the coffee.

So if you need a pick-me-up, don’t hesitate to order that espresso cocktail you’ve been eyeing on many of Atlanta’s best bar menus. It’s a grown-up drink now, and it’s classier than a Red Bull-vodka.

Irish Espresso, Red Sky Tapas and Bar
Creamy and frozen, this is less martini and more frozen Irish coffee. It’s a little sweet, but not too much so, which helps balance the intense booziness of this cocktail. A couple of these will give you all the energy and booze you need to belt out your favorite dueling piano hits. @redskytapas

Intercontinental Espresso martini, Secreto Kitchen& Bar 
Rodney White, the bar manager at Secreto, is very proud of this complex espresso martini. It has notes of chocolate and orange, and it strikes an almost perfect balance between bitter and sweet. @secretokitchen

The Gatekeeper, Full Commission
An espresso cocktail made for true coffee lovers, this cocktail is the most coffee-forward of the bunch. Made with bourbon, Cointreau and orange bitters, the expertly pulled espresso is the star. @fullcommissionatl

Cafe Paris Martini, Bistro Niko
While this espresso martini appears on the dessert menu and is topped with whipped cream, it’s surprisingly light on the palate—and it plays well with Bistro Niko’s decadent French pastries. @bistroniko

Shakerato, Seed Kitchen & Bar
Bar manager David Peek plays with espresso’s intrinsic fruit flavors here. Lemon zest gives the drink a citrus nose, while Luxardo adds a rich, round fruitiness to the body. The cocktail’s coffee flavor comes from Cafe Nola liqueur. @eatatseed

Dark Before Six, South Main Kitchen
Using a naturally sweet spirit like rum instantly helps balance this coffee-flavored drink. An interesting bite from black pepper simple syrup keeps you sipping, adding complexity to a a relatively simple cocktail. @southmainkitchen

Off-menu dessert martini, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse
This version of an espresso martini is a take on the traditional Italian dessert affogato—hot espresso poured over cold gelato. The dessert drink combines espresso and vanilla-bean ice cream with boozy elements for a cold cocktail that feels like a warm blanket. Instead of sugar, the rim is coated with pleasantly bitter lemon and coffee grounds. @del.friscos

Master of Reality, St. Cecilia
With blanco tequila as its base, this light and tasty cocktail is dangerously drinkable. Old-fashioned creme de cacao and a funky dry vermouth bring character and complexity to this decidedly modern take on an espresso martini. @stceciliaatl