Like most sensible people, when faced with a dilemma, I ask myself what Naomi Campbell would do.
Take last week for example, when I was finally going to be able to use those Book of Mormon tickets I bought AGES ago, but knew that if history has shown us anything, it’s that no matter how good the production, an 8pm curtain can prove challenging for my stamina.
What would Naomi do if faced with the need to stay up past her bed-time?
Back in the 1980s, the savvy super-model tasked bartender extraordinaire Dick Bradsell (who sadly died at just 56 last year and we did a little salute to him HERE) with giving her a cocktail that would “wake her up and fuck her up”.
Thus began the dawn of the Espresso Martini Era.
We are now deep in the second wave of the Espresso Martini Era, as our society’s ridiculous obsession with coffee collides with the cocktail renaissance to such an extent that tickets for an Espresso Martini Festival in Melbourne sold out in less than ten minutes in 2016.
That it was created in the 1980s should give us reason to approach this IBA Cocktail with some degree of caution.
Firstly, of course, the Espresso Martini is not really a Martini.
No, it’s not. Just like the Flirtini, the Appletini and all the imposters that come in a Martini glass, calling something a Martini is not enough to make it a Martini.
A Martini has gin or vodka and vermouth. Full stop.
The Espresso Martini – a cocktail Bradsell originally dubbed “Vodka Espresso” and later tried to rename “Pharmaceutical Stimulant” when the Martini nonsense took hold (making him even more of a legend in my eyes) – contains vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso and sugar syrup. HERE’s the recipe.
As part of our Mormon mission, Shake, Stir, Muddle bundled into Federici Bistro in Melbourne and discovered a THOROUGHLY delightful service where you can pre-order drinks for Intermission. Not just crappy sparkling wine in plastic glasses, but proper cocktails, consumed at your dedicated table or seat at the bar. It’s heavenly.
Possibly actual Heaven in fact.
There was zero doubt we would avail ourselves of this magnificent service, but the question was what to order for the post-bed-time mission.
Coffee helps, of course.
That the wakey-wakeyness of coffee peaks about an hour after consumption makes it a perfect choice for both pre-theatre and Intermission.
But do we go for an Espresso Martini (which I’m told makes proper bartender roll their eyes – HERE’s a great story from The Guardian which includes a tale of a bunch of women on a Hen’s Night carrying signs saying “Espresso Martini” and just waving those around when they wanted a drink), or an Espresso and a Martini?
Obviously that’s an issue of taste, but if calories are relevant to you, Bradsell’s creation will hit your daily budget about 284 calories a pop, but the Espresso and Martini combo comes in at about 174 calories and that includes two olives.
Regular readers could be forgiven for assuming that I’d always go for the combo. Truth is though, I have a bit of a soft spot for old Naomi’s cocktail and will periodically opt for it in lieu of dessert and Federici had a Dark Chocolate offering that clearly had added benefits of anti-oxidants (whatever those are).
We divided and conquered and road-tested both. I’m happy to report that no one had to be nudged into wakefulness during the fabulous Book of Mormon.
So I can recommend either path as a sure fire way of staying the course (unless you’re at Waiting for Godot, in which case I suggest just giving into the Sleep Gods and enjoying the nap).
Now you could listen to the soundtrack of Book of Mormon while you down your Pharmaceutical Stimulant but I think that would be wasting a golden opportunity.
Let’s take the birth decade of this cocktail and travel back to 1983.
Yes, the year that the cavalcade of pop classics that is Wham! Fantastic was bestowed upon on us.
You could sing Bad Boys, but since Patron Saint of SSM, George Michael didn’t actually like that song, let’s not. Instead you could opt for Wham! Rap, or one of THE BEST songs ever recorded, Club Tropicana (which we have covered HERE).
You could watch Risky Business, also released in 1983. Or Our Nicole (when she still had curly red hair) in BMX Bandits. Or Terms of Endearments. Or the best yet, Flashdance.
Seriously, 1983 is possibly the most magnificent year ever for music or movies.
But how about this? How about watching The Commitments instead.
Confession time, I’ve never seen it so have no idea whether it’s any good, and it came out in 1991, so may not seem entirely relevant, but bear with me.
You know that song Mustang Sally, right? It was written in the mid-1960s, but if you were around in the 1990s, you’d know it from it being on rotation on dance floors at the same unwelcome regularity as Dave Dobbyn’s Slice of Heaven. That’s because of The Commitments.
So we all know the lyric “Ride, Sally ride.”
We’ve gone back to 1983 (which to be perfectly honest is a few years before the 13 year old Naomi started ordering cocktails), that most spectacular year of screen and sound, to talk about a woman named Sally Ride who in June of that year became the first US woman in space.
This is cool on many levels.
Sally was super-smart and inspired many girls to study science. Sally had a fantastic perm. And Sally Ride was the first known LGBTQI astronaut.
Sadly, this last part wasn’t publicly acknowledged until her obituary in 2012 when she died aged 61, having spent 27 years with Tam O’Shaughnessy.
There are people in Australia who would still like us to have our LGBTQI brothers and sisters live their entire lives pretending not to be who they are.
But I say, let’s raise a glass of Pharmaceutical Stimulant – or whatever you fancy – to Sally Ride, and let’s treat hiding your sexual orientation as being as culturally-relevant as Sally’s perm.
Questionable in 1983, down-right comical in 2017.
So as they say in The Commitments*, Sláinte mhaith, and if you haven’t yet, please vote YES (it’s what Naomi would do).