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Espress Yourself

We’re big coffee lovers at Liquor Studio, whether it’s in the form of the 1st flat white of the day when we get into the Studio, a little iced number on a hot day, or the 3rd Espresso Martini of a night out on the tiles! You, our trusty Liquor Studio followers are clearly big coffee lovers too; our bottled Espresso Martinis fly out & you can’t get enough of their pictures on our Instagram. So! It makes perfect sense for us to create our own Coffee Liquor, as it brings together 2 of our passions, coffee & alcohol and that’s what we’re up to right now!

The how, when & why of human kinds’ love affair with coffee and alcohol can be a little hazy, however, we do know that alcohol came first and by a country mile, rumour has it around 10,000BC!

Alcohol is pretty much the oldest drug in the world; the production, sale, and Governmental regulation of alcohol was already taking place as early as 2100 B.C. in Ancient Civilizations. Doctors and pharmacists from this era would prescribe beer to their customers and this medicinal use of alcohol continued through early human history & is still part of the majority of cultures worldwide.

Coffee, on the other hand, is estimated to have been cultivated since around the 15th Century. But while there are a number of theories and legends surrounding the discovery of coffee, there’s only one that seems to be somewhat legit. It all started with a bunch of dancing goats hopped up on caffeine. The goats (and the strange coffee berries they were eating) were discovered by their owner, an Ethiopian herder named Kaldi, who then brought the caffeinated berries to the attention of local religious leaders. It is said that the religious leaders filtered water through the berries and were pleasantly surprised by the effects. They were no longer tired during late prayers!

Fast forward to 1943 and the first widely known coffee cocktail came from a young chef called Joe Sheridan working in Ireland, as he was tasked with coming up with a drink to warm up stranded passengers on a stormy winter night. Coffee, sugar, Irish Whiskey & cream…The passengers asked if it was a Brazilian coffee because of the taste, It was, of course, an Irish Coffee, Joe explained to them!

A few decades later in 1983, Dick Bradsell created the Espresso Martini; the story goes that a model “who now is very famous” asked for a drink to “Wake me up and f*ck me up”.

Vodka, espresso, coffee liqueur, sugar, shaken hard!

Ever since trying an Espresso Martini for the first time many years ago, I have been fascinated with coffee liqueur, such a simple drink can be so perfectly balanced and combined with so many other flavours. I have found that coffee works with a large & varied range of flavours during my years creating cocktails;

Almond, Avocado, Banana, Beef, Blackcurrant, Cardamom, Cherry, Chocolate, Clove, Coriander seed, Ginger, Hazelnut, Mint, Nutmeg, Orange, Raisin, Vanilla, Walnut, White Chocolate.

I’m a big believer in the fact that a small pinch of salt will improve a plethora of cocktails as it is a flavour enhancer and neutralizer and this couldn’t be more apparent when it comes to coffee cocktails. Salt controls the bitterness and releases sweeter flavours from the coffee.

The last few weeks have consisted of a lot of research & experimentation as we delve into the world of coffee; our friends & coffee geniuses at Maude Coffee ( who are conveniently based a short walk away from us have been a great help and very kindly held a training session with me. I made the mistake of attending the session without eating breakfast first and I’m fairly sure I could hear colours by the time I’d bounced back to the Studio! Having tasted my way through a range of blends, I decided on a Columbian coffee bean due to its dark chocolate aromas, a taste of biscuit & nutmeg along with a slight nuttiness.

When I think of my ideal coffee liquor, I always envisage something with pastry notes and this is how I ended up distilling a croissant! I left a croissant to macerate in neutral grain spirit for a couple of days and then popped it through our pot still, the result was a buttery distillate which captured all of the best bits of a croissant, success!

The liquor is still very much a work in progress as I create all of the different elements which will make up the final product. For those of you who are booked in for our classes, I will be using you as guinea pigs, be warned!

In the meantime, I can’t leave you without a drink so here’s a cocktail I created a couple of years ago for a rooftop garden party. It was absolutely roasting during the middle of Summer and this drink really helped to cool everyone down and simultaneously perk them up.

Spanish Highball


25ml White Rum

15ml PX Sherry

25ml Espresso

25ml Coffee Liqueur

Mint Leaves

Top Tonic Water


Mint Leaf




Shake all your ingredients with ice

(except the Tonic otherwise, you’ll be looking at one hell of a mess).

Strain into a glass full of ice

Top with Tonic Water

Garnish with mint

Boom! Enjoy your delicious beverage.

Written By: Jon Lee (Head Distiller) & Kirsty Taylor