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Making espresso martinis from scratch can seem complicated, but in most cases, you don’t need fancy coffee machines or special equipment to master this indulgent cocktail. In fact, according to one chef, there are only two simple things you need to get right to achieve a “perfectly balanced” drink, topped with a milky layer of froth. She explained no matter what kind of milk you use – whether it be dairy or plant-based, the “trick” is using the right shaker.
Despite being considered a classic cocktail, the espresso martini is something few people have mastered when it comes to making drinks from scratch.
Curdled or separated bubbles are a common complaint when topping the coffee drink with a frothy layer, or worse, none at all. But with no way to see how it will turn out until the point of pouring, it can seem impossible to get right.
However, according to paleo and vegan speciality chef, Nyssa, it can be easily resolved by paying extra attention to how you shake the ingredients together.
She explained that using a tightly sealed shaker or bottle to combine the vodka, espresso, and coffee liqueur together plays a huge part in creating a desirable “dense and creamy foam”.
Nyssa said: “Properly aerating the cocktail is what helps build the foam on your finished drink so use some muscle power!” You don’t need to shake the ingredients for long, in fact, 15-30 seconds “should do the trick” if you put enough energy into it.
According to the paleo chef, using the right ratio of ingredients is another crucial element to consider when making your espresso martinis – but it doesn’t matter what coffee you use.
She added: “The sugar in the coffee liqueur combined with the crema from the coffee helps build the foam on top. If your ingredients are too diluted the martini won’t have as lovely of a foam.”
While ice can dilute the drink with a small amount of water, you should use a generous amount of it in the shaker.
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According to an expert at Smartblend, this is not only to achieve a cool, refreshing temperature but also to improve the consistency of the foam when you pour the mixture out.
They recommended using a bigger shaker loaded with “lots and lots of ice” that will smash up and emulsify the liquid even more.
The Smartblend expert said: “Like how a cold beer holds a nice head and a warm beer looks flat, an ice cold espresso martini will have a denser and longer holding foam. So don’t skimp on the ice.”
Chef Nyssa from Nyssa’s Kitchen recommended a swift pour after shaking to make the most of the dense foam too.
She said: “As soon as you’re done shaking strain the cocktail into glasses so the foam doesn’t have time to break down.
“If making two cocktails at a time divide about half of the cocktail into each glass and then finish them both with what remains, as most of the foam will pour out last.”
Coupe glasses are the best way to serve this flavoursome cocktail, though you can experiment with any shallow glasses that you have on hand.
According to Nyssa, the classic garnish on an espresso martini is three coffee beans which are thought to represent health, wealth, and happiness, or you can add a dusting of cocoa powder.
Three ingredients are generally all you need to whip up an espresso martini, all of which can be combined in equal measures. To replicate chef Nyssa’s recipe, you will need:
- Extra strong hot coffee, cold brew concentrate or high-quality instant coffee
- Coffee liqueur – Kahlua or equivalent
Measure out your ingredients equally and pour the cold ingredient into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. If using hot espresso, add this in last so that the ice doesn’t immediately melt.
Seal the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-30 seconds to aerate the liquid. Strain into a chilled glass and enjoy.
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