The Espresso Martini is a modern classic that debuted in the 1980s, when London bartender Dick Bradsell mixed vodka with espresso and coffee liqueur. This polarizing drink is a popular pick-me-up at bars all over the world. Naturally, like any ubiquitous concoction, it has also spawned several variations over the years. One of the more interesting riffs is the Cardamom cocktail from Mace in New York City.
Mace is named for the spice, and its drinks incorporate spices from around the globe. Bartender and co-owner Nico de Soto was inspired by the earthy flavors of cardamom when he put this Espresso Martini twist on the opening menu in 2015. It combines pistachio-fat-washed vodka with espresso and a DIY cardamom syrup.
Fat washing is a technique in which liquid fat is infused in liquor. The combination is frozen, and then the solids are skimmed off, leaving behind a rich, savory spirit imbued with extra flavor. Over the years, bacon fat has been a popular choice, seen in drinks like the Bacon Old Fashioned, but any fat will do. In this case, de Soto employs pistachio oil to make a rich, pistachio-flavored vodka. And the cardamom syrup is essentially a simple syrup that combines sugar, water and cardamom pods.
Those two ingredients must be made ahead, but once completed, you’ll have several servings at your disposal, giving you a lot of mileage from your effort. The only remaining step is to source some good espresso. This recipe calls for Brazilian espresso, so you might as well follow suit. Shake everything with ice, and serve in punch cups. The trio of ingredients combine to create a rich flavor and frothy head, perfect for supporting an aromatic garnish of three cardamom pods—similar to how the Espresso Martini calls for a garnish of three coffee beans.
1 1/2 ounces pistachio-fat-washed vodka*
1 1/2 ounces Brazilian espresso
1/2 ounce cardamom syrup**
Garnish: 3 cardamom pods
Add the pistachio-fat-washed vodka, espresso and cardamom syrup into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a punch cup.
Garnish with 3 cardamom pods.
*Pistachio-fat-washed vodka: Combine 120 grams of pistachio oil and 1 750 mL bottle of vodka in a covered jar. Shake mixture every 10 minutes for 2 hours. Place mixture in the freezer for 4 to 6 hours. Strain mixture and store the vodka in a sealed container for up to 1 month.
**Cardamom syrup: Bring 1 cup water and 1/4 cup cardamom pods to a boil. Stir in 1 cup sugar until fully dissolved. Remove mixture from the heat and allow to cool. Keep in the refrigerator for 3 days, then strain and discard the cardamom. Store, sealed and refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.