The Rise and Rise of Coffee Cocktails

Photographed by Roxana Azar
The exact origin of coffee cocktails is almost impossible to know. Humans have been indulging in a tipple of one kind or another for millennia, while coffee has been cultivated as far back as the 15th century.
"Cocktail" itself comes from a 17th century expression for a "pick-me-up", so it's almost impossible to believe it took too long for someone to realise that putting coffee in a cocktail might be a good idea. Today though, the coffee cocktail has definitely arrived. The Espresso Martini, a mainstay of coffee cocktails, was named the 15th most popular cocktail in the world this January by Drinks International, up 12 places since 2016 . Supply has met demand, with more and more late night bars offering cocktails with a coffee kick to them.
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Chris Dennis, from Soho super chic cocktail den Disrepute, says that he's seen a rise in orders of coffee cocktails over the past few years, and he thinks it's due to our newfound curiosity about the origins of our ingredients. "Consumers are challenging themselves to look at production and history of a category and brand" Chris told us. "Because of the growing process and preparation coffee beans have to go through, it is pretty ideally suited to this new consumer approach".
The rise of coffee cocktails has coincided with a boom in British artisan coffee. There are now over 300 coffee roasters in the UK. The UK based Cotswold Distillery for instance, uses award winning coffee from Monsoon Estates craft coffee roastery in it's bottled Espresso Martini to perfectly bring out the taste of their alcohol.
Some bars are even teaming top baristas with bartenders to create coffee cocktails with specifically well crafted coffee blends. Restaurant, cocktail bar, café and general food mecca Treves & Hyde's Over Oceans coffee cocktail is the brainchild of their head barman Stefano Campigli and head of coffee James Wise, who recently won London's Coffee Masters. Unsurprisingly, Nescafé was never going to get a look in with this drink and instead James chose a "Kenyan coffee with sweet notes of forest berries" to bring out the sloe gin chosen by Stefano.
So, seeing as coffee and gin looks to be the combination that may knock the Espresso Martini off the top spot when it comes to coffee cocktails, it's about time you learned to make your own. Here's our own recipe for the perfect coffee infused gin & tonic. This is a powerful drink, so we'd go for a single measure and a smaller glass.

Coffee Gin And Tonic

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Ingredients (Makes 1)
25ml gin
25ml Sandows cold brew coffee (Sandows introduced coffee gin and tonics at the 2015 London Coffee Festival, and the crowds ran them dry)
75ml tonic water
Ice
Method
Fill a glass with ice, and add a single measure of gin (Sipsmith works well). Add the same measure of cold brew, and top with tonic (about 75ml). Great for if you've been day-drinking and need a pick-me-up to continue the party.
Photo: Courtesy of MNKY HSE
If you can't be bothered to make a coffee cocktail yourself, you don't need to go far to find one. If you're in London, Javier Escirbano from Mayfair's MNKY HSE has created an entire collection of limited edition coffee based cocktails, pairing coffee liqueur and espresso with everything from mezcal to chocolate brownie syrup. Hidden behind a faux goods entrance in Manchester is Wood & Company, a semi-speakeasy which serves up one of the best Espresso Martinis I've ever had, each with their own little latte art on top. For those in the know, The Finnieston Bar in Glasgow serves up an off menu gin-lovers twist on the classic Espresso Martini and Edinburgh favourite Bramble offers the aptly named La Paradis, a combination of 'Lucky' coffee liqueur, cognac, coconut water reduction and orange bitters. Heavenly!
But will the buzz around coffee cocktails be gone by the time you've finished your drink? Chris Dennis thinks our love of coffee will keep it on our cocktail menus well into 2017. "I think consumers often drink coffee because they love the taste" he told us, "until a miracle product pops up that both tastes great and has a little caffeine boost- I'll stick to the Americanos".
James Wise too thinks coffee cocktails are set to be a "staple of cocktail bars for years to come", more because of our love of nightlife than anything else. "Most people in London live for the night, coffee cocktails help to facilitate that" James told us, and he's right. The recent campaign to save Fabric showed that the UK's love of a big night out is still alive and well, and we're going to need something to see us through.
According to The British Coffee Association we drink about 55 million cups of coffee a day, an it doesn't look like it will be long until we won't be able to do without our coffee fix in a cocktail glass too. And why not? Studies have shown that coffee might be good for us, help us to exercise and even make us have better sex. If that's not an incentive to try out another coffee cocktail, we don't know what is. We'll have what she's having please.
Photo: Courtesy of MNKY HSE
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