The History of the Espresso Martini

VIEW Published Article : 2019 Winter Issue SCENE Magazine North End

Imagine it’s a magnificent Saturday evening in the city of Boston. The bartenders at Bricco have properly prepped for the 1 a.m. rush of the city’s socialites pouring in to ask, “can we have seven Espresso Martinis please.” A common North End occurrence!

The Espresso Martini, a cocktail that has vastly become a craze and a signature for the DePasquale Ventures restaurant corporation. Absolutely a classic here in the Hub yet what is the history behind the Espresso Martini? There are several claims for the origin of the tasty beverage. One of the more common claims is that it was created by Dick Bradsell in the late 1980s while at Fred’s Club in London for a young lady who asked for something that would, "Wake me up, and then f*ck me up." Bradsell has been quoted about the circumstances on his invention of the drink, "The coffee machine at the Soho Brasseries was right next to the station where I served drinks. It was a nightmare, as there were coffee grounds everywhere, so coffee was very much on my mind. And it was all about vodka back then, it was all people were drinking."

The recipes for an Espresso Martini may vary depending on the source. Traditionally, they include Kahlua or Tia Maria. The recipe reached Australia by the late ’90s, just as the country’s nascent cocktail culture was beginning to take shape. Today you’ll find entire festivals dedicated to the , shake-your-own versions for sale at liquor stores, local brands of cold-brewed coffee designed especially for cocktails, and creative takes on the classic, carefully crafted as anything you’d find in New York’s or Tokyo’s best bars.

Or is the greatest creation of the cocktail right here at home by the one and only, award winning Glen La Maitre of Bricco Boston? The trophies from around the country and tales told about his master mix just might be the official answer.

This trademark cocktail is identifiable in the DePasquale empire and alone at Bricco last year sold 25,028 and will see around 31,000 plus served this year. Being a focal point in cocktail conversations I thought why not get the story from Boston’s Best Bartender himself. When asking Glen to give me a little insight to his background in the business, La Maitre replied, “I’ve been working in and around Boston’s restaurant industry, bars, nightclubs, Gentlemen’s clubs, after hours, raves, private events and have been a guest bartender at many functions. I’ve also consulted, managed, trained and have run numerous successful industry operations throughout Boston for the past 30 years.”

As anyone can see who takes a seat at your Bricco bar, there are awards hanging. Tell me about a few, “I’ve been fortunate enough to win best of Boston, winner of the Cue for best cocktail also best Espresso Martini as well best Espresso Martini throughout the country. I’ve also been featured in Forbes and Maxim Magazine.”

As I was posted up at the bar it was just about 5pm and an adorable couple slides right on up. They boast on about Glen and spending their cocktail hour with him for the last 11 years. Seeming to be creatures of habit yet in the spirit to let Glen do his thing through our interview he whipped up a blood orange Malfy gin cocktail for the lady that not only did she gush over, she ordered another.

Carrying on; Glen talk to me about your award-winning recipe, where it came from and the inspiration behind it. “The Espresso Martini that I started making was actually a frozen drink. I got the idea while serving in the Navy and on leave in the Virgin Islands. It was a combination of a frozen mudslide/bushwhacker/nutty Irishman and sipping espresso trying to sober up yet keep drinking. It became a martini after summer ended and bartenders breaking the blenders. They didn’t have to make frozen drinks anymore and if you’ve bartended before you know what I mean.” laughing as La Maitre explained. “That was the start; it was served on the rocks like an ice coffee , that was also poured straight up in a martini glass and the cocoa rim mixed with raw sugar is served in homage of Caribbean drinks like salt around the rim of a margarita. It adds that little something extra and makes a great looking drink.”

Glen closed out our conversation by saying, “I’m proud to serve all these creations years later in Frank DePasquale’s restaurants. I am thankful and extremely grateful to Frank and Joey DePasquale for allowing me to use and showcase a drink that brings so many smiles and people together. For we are in the entertainment business and a part of people lives, hopes, dreams, memories and fantasies. You can go anywhere for a drink, let me pour you an experience. Rock the Day! G”

Glen is hands down, shakers up Boston’s Best and the rock behind Bricco’s bar. The history and origin of this luscious liquid refreshment is up for debate. Yet there is only one place to go and one bartender to see where it will be poured to perfection.

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