Wake up to the Espresso Martini

The bittersweet contemporary classic makes a comeback

Get your caffeine buzz on with the return of the retro Espresso Martini. Getty Images photo

High-waisted jeans, shoulder pads, neon colours—if you had any doubts that the 1980s are back, the return of the Espresso Martini should lay them to rest.

This buzzy, bittersweet cocktail was perhaps the quintessential cocktail of an era in drinks culture that was otherwise, frankly, pretty grim. 

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Espresso Martini

Getty images photo

The key to this cocktail is using hot espresso—if the coffee is cold, it won’t form the “crema,” the creamy foam on top that is the drink’s signature. The three coffee beans represent health, wealth and happiness.

• 2 oz vodka

• 0.5 oz coffee liqueur (such as Kahlúa)

• 1 oz espresso, freshly brewed and hot

• 0.5 oz simple syrup (or to taste) 

• Garnish: coffee beans

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Cocktails to go, go, go

Three drinks that bring new meaning to “one for the road”

The Aviation cocktail. Getty Images photo

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been dreaming of escape, of going somewhere, anywhere that isn’t your home. But it might be a while before it seems like a good idea to hop on a train or a plane just for fun.

Instead, let this trio of classic cocktails whisk you away on a spirited journey.

Cocktails have always tasted of travel and exotic places. A Kir Royale is a sip of France just as a Margarita is of Mexico. A bowl of punch carries memories of India. Tropical cocktails are the very essence of the Caribbean or South Pacific.

But some cocktails are about the journey itself, inspired by the modes of transportation that will get you there. Consider these three—the Aviation, 20th Century and Sidecar—the sour-based planes, trains and automobiles of cocktail culture.

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Sidecar

Sidecar. Getty Images photo

The proportions for this drink have changed since it was invented in the 1920s, so feel free to adjust them to your liking.

• 2 oz Cognac (or brandy, if you’re on a budget)

• 1 oz Cointreau

• 1 oz lemon juice

• Garnish: Optional sugar rim; lemon or orange twist

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20th Century

20th Century cocktail. Getty Images photo

The original recipe from 1937 called for Kina Lillet, which is no longer available—Lillet Blanc makes a good substitute in this Art Deco cocktail.

• 1.5 oz gin

• 0.75 oz Lillet Blanc

• 0.5 oz light crème de cacao

• 0.5 oz fresh lemon juice

• Garnish: Lemon twist

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Aviation

Aviation cocktail. Getty Images photo

Many recipes leave out the crème de violette, but it is essential, not just for the blue colour it gives the drink, but the way it balances the other ingredients.

• 2 oz gin

• 0.25 oz maraschino liqueur

• 0.25 oz crème de violette

• 0.5 oz lemon juice

• Garnish: Flamed lemon peel or brandied cherry

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The mysterious monk

Bénédictine’s storied role in cocktails old and new

Bénédictine’s romantic story is part of its appeal. Photo courtesy of benedictinedom.com

If you’re the sort of person who likes their cocktails served with a side of storytelling, then Bénédictine is the drink for you. Consider it the Forrest Gump of the spirits world, popping up at just the right moments and in the just the right cocktails.

Bénédictine is an herbal liqueur produced in France, based on Cognac, sweetened with honey and flavoured with 27 herbs and spices including saffron, hyssop and lemon balm. Like Chartreuse, it was originally produced centuries ago, concocted by monks as a medicinal tonic.

Or was it?

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Poet’s Dream

Poet’s Dream. Getty Images photo

When this cocktail appeared in the 1935 Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book, it was an equal-parts cocktail and, like La Louisiane, has been made stronger and less sweet over time. Some versions are almost Martini dry; this one retains enough liqueur to highlight its sweet spice.

• 1 oz gin

• 1 oz dry vermouth

• 0.5 oz. Bénédictine

• 2 dashes orange bitters

• Garnish: lemon twist

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De La Louisiane

De La Louisiane. Getty Images photo

The original La Louisiane cocktail dates back to the late 19th century in New Orleans, where it featured equal amounts of rye, vermouth and Bénédictine. This contemporary version, which is far less sweet, is adapted from The PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan (2011).

2 oz rye whisky

0.75 oz Bénédictine

0.75 oz sweet vermouth

3 dashes absinthe

3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Garnish: 3 brandied cherries

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5 drinks every home bartender should know how to make

Our editor’s essential cocktails

An Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail every home bartender should know how to make. Getty images photo

Now that we’re all spending so much more time at home, this is a good opportunity to brush up on our home-bartending skills. That means learning at least a few recipes to serve to the people in your bubble and, eventually, all the many friends you’re making on Zoom.

The most important drink you should know how to make is the one you like best. That’s also the best advice for stocking your liquor cabinet, though for your sake I hope it’s something simple, like a highball, rather than, say, a Ramos Gin Fizz, which requires egg whites, orange blossom water and a seltzer bottle, among other things.

After that, it’s best to start with classics. They are, after all, classics for a reason—they taste good, and they work—but they are also a good place to start experimenting if you want to get creative. Here are five drinks every home bartender should have in their repertoire.

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