The best coffee-flavoured cocktails that aren't espresso martinis

As far as cocktails go, nothing quite makes the heart beat faster than an Espresso Martini – still one of the most sought after wake-up calls behind the bar. But for all its bean ambition, this '80s classic has a reason to be fearful as mixologists invent new coffee cocktails in the pursuit of shaking things up.

Global coffee ambassador for Mr. Black, Martin Hudak, is rewinding the clock with a new coffee cocktail set to rival the classic. He takes inspiration from the Tiki era, which first surfaced during Prohibition in 1934, but the essence of his Espresso Martiki riffs on a '60s go-go dance where a dose of exotica and tropical notes are a match made in coffee heaven. 

Hudak created the cocktail two years ago in London and it now joins cocktail lists in Australia including Black Pearl in Melbourne and Sydney's Maybe Sammy's in The Rocks - where you'll find him behind the bar serving it up. 

Fresh brews

Hudak says while the espresso martini is still a popular drink; consumers are looking to plug into a new variation.  

"I think it's time to leave the Espresso Martini and White Russian behind and come up with a modern drink to entice your guests," says Martin Hudak who previously worked at London's Savoy Hotel, The American Bar prior to moving to Sydney this year for his latest cocktail role.

"We're in a new era of coffee cocktails," he adds.

"It's about respecting the past, knowing how to make a classic, but not being afraid to put a new spin on it, which is what I have done with this cocktail that includes rum and coffee."

Local blends and wellness

He says the coffee cocktail trend is happening globally, but cities like Melbourne and Sydney are leading the way.

"You can go to a bar in London, Bangkok and New York and find new takes on coffee cocktails on the menu now, and given Australians are big lovers of coffee it makes sense these sort of cocktails are doing even better in this market," he adds.

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Consumers are also waking up to smell the coffee cocktail for more than just the flavour alone.

"People are more health conscious now," says Hudak who is trying to shake coffee liqueurs reputation from grandma's drink of choice to hipster territory. 

"People are drinking less, but better quality spirits, and they want to know more about the origin of the spirit as well.

"Australians are avoiding partying drinking for no reason in favour of knowing what's inside their glass and that means understanding the basics that make up their cocktail too," says Hudak.

Vintage variations

Meanwhile at QT Sydney, the demand for a coffee cocktail comes with anything but the bean intervention. On the menu you'll find a milkshake inspired alternative that dates back to 1887. 

This is where cognac, port, egg and grated nutmeg meet head on in a glass, rounded out with a shot of sugar for a smoother transfusion to give coffee lovers all they need.

According to QT Sydney's Bar Manager Aaron Shuttleworth, the cocktail is aimed at those looking for a drink to finish their meal rather than a shot of espresso.  

"This Coffee Cocktail contains no coffee and no bitters," says Shuttleworth of the drink that first appeared in the iconic bartenders recipe book by Jerry Thomas in the late 1800s. "It's an eclectic combination of rich ingredients that gives guest a lighter substitute for dessert at the end of their meal."