The reinvention of coffee cocktails

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Enjoying a well-crafted Old Fashioned is one of life’s great pleasures and far more likely in recent years as the standard of cocktails has been steadily on the rise. The same applies for coffee. Once upon a time instant coffee was seen as a time saver as opposed to being reviled for the poor cousin of a well-blended caffeinated bliss. And yet when it comes to coffee cocktails, the choices are often thin on the ground.

The Espresso Martini was created in the 1980’s in London and has been a firm favourite ever since, revolutionising the cocktail scene. However in the 30 odd years since it hit the radar, only Irish coffee is set up as its alcoholic coffee rival. Though occasionally a thick and creamy, sugar laden contender with a smidge of both coffee and alcohol enters the ring, there has been a lack of artistry in this area. Thankfully, that is over.

The craftsmen in both camps are looking to push the boundaries, blending espresso and alcohol in clever and commanding ways, and this trend isn’t restricted to one city or one country, it has gone global.

In London

If you ever needed proof that the capital city was hooked on coffee, the festival dedicated to the beverage should tip you off. Though in recent years we have seen customers care far more about craft and origin, the scene in London lacks the syrupy flavours and sweet garnishes seen so often across the pond.

34 Mayfair

The restaurant that seemed to have organically grown in Grosvenor Square, rather than have been crafted, is continuing to push both staff and customers in terms of taste. 34 Mayfair’s recent partnership with world renowned perfumer Creed has seen both brands undertake a sensory journey that has created scents and desserts alike, however one outcome is particularly interesting – Roma Coffee Lemonade. Lighter than the expected coffee cocktail, this cocktail sparkles with citrus and herb undertones to a challenging drink.

Duck and Waffle

Though this venue may be famous for its location and views, its recent cocktail offering should really take centre stage. The concept of ‘Origins’ sounds ambitious, taking one ingredient and using different elements in a multitude of ways to create a well-rounded and enjoyable cocktail. However Duck and Waffle has managed it, and with a coffee offering on the menu, I am excited to try this fresh new take on a traditional ingredient.

In Hong Kong

The speciality coffee scene has hit Hong Kong hard and fast and while industry experts wonder whether this is sustainable, those on the ground are looking to capitalise on its recent popularity.

Coffee Academics

Antonio Lai, owner of a multiple successful evening venues has teamed up with the gurus at The Coffee Academics to bring new offerings to the scene. These six cocktails all contain elements of coffee but with a variety of different alcohols, involving gin, whisky and vodka. Some take on a tropical element while others are distinctly spiced but it shows the innovation happening regardless of the age of the coffee scene.

In Oslo

Norwegians like their coffee and have enjoyed it as a social drink for years, however they have taken a slightly different track to the rest of the world, enjoying much lighter roasts. This allows the bean’s flavours to be thoroughly expressed where as they are often obscured under darker and heavier roasts.

Kaffikaze Coffee festival

This festival explores everything coffee and the experts of the city and industry flock to debate, discuss and deconstruct one of the world’s favourite drinks. From the roasting process to barista techniques, everything is on offer, including coffee tipples.

As night descends the mixologists arrive and though coffee beer may be available, coffee cocktails are the main event. This year will be the first coffee festival ion Oslo and I am intrigued to see the success of the event.


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People are using fresh shots of espresso to lengthen and balance their drinks, or carefully crafted liqueurs to add sweet coffee tones. Some mixologists have even turned to cascara- a lighter derivative made from the skin of the coffee cherry that houses the bean. However they choose to incorporate the flavour, it is a far cry from the heavy creamy cocktails we have previously been subjected to and instead the industry is moving forwards with inspired innovation.