Recently, a friend said that if an espresso martini appears on a bar menu, it’s either outdated or a guilty pleasure—much like Sex and the City.
I appreciate a proper espresso martini, so I’ve been asking bartenders and bar owners around Kansas City how they feel about the cocktail. There seems to be a consensus that dessert martinis are making a comeback. As one bar owner put it, “People like what they like, and they are becoming more comfortable asking for what they like, even at the risk of being called ‘basic.’”
The mid-1990s saw what some refer to as “the cocktail renaissance”—martini glasses were everywhere. What started as a push toward fresh fruit cocktails led British bartending legend Dick Bradsell to create the espresso martini. Any drink that couldn’t be called “a martini” (and the term was used loosely) was poured into the void. Chocolate martinis, appletinis, raspberry martinis and especially espresso martinis were the pinnacle of sophistication.
One of Kansas City’s best-loved classic red sauce Italian restaurants, Cupini’s, just opened a full-serve bar with a tiramisu martini. For starters, Cupini’s is a whole 90s-Italian-restaurant mood. The restaurant’s red-checkered tablecloths and countryside mural in the open alleyway are picture-perfect for sipping dessert martinis.
Cupini’s tiramisu martini is made with chocolate and coffee liquor, Irish cream and rum. It has cinnamon and chocolate added for that tiramisu-in-a-glass experience. And the drink has a secret ingredient you might not expect: orange juice. It caught me off guard, too. You don’t really taste it.
The citrus just adds a little zest. If you’re into the dessert martini revival or the thrill of a caffeinated-foam mustache and the chance of choking on an espresso bean, you’re in luck because the drinks are popping up unannounced at a surprising rate, much like S&TC sequels.
Tini Trend Two
The martini revival has arrived. Here are six spots in KC with trendy espresso and dessert martinis.