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Espresso martinis are back in Twin Cities bars and restaurants; here are 3 to try

Everything old becomes new again, even at the bar. Take the espresso martini, a drink from the late 20th century cocktail pantheon that, along with flannel and baggy jeans, is making a comeback.

“We felt like it was very popular in Campiello at the time,” says Lindsay Pohlad, referring to the Uptown Italian restaurant that operated from the mid-90s to the mid-2000s. Again, the drink is “really popular”. Pohlad, owner of the deli table at Wayzata, put a version of the espresso martini on the restaurant’s new all-day cocktail menu to highlight the cafe program and the bakery.

It’s popular any time of the day, she noted. “People order it at 10:30 in the morning,” she says. “People come with us before the game and then go to another restaurant, or they even have it as a last drink.”

A true espresso martini contains few ingredients: usually just an espresso and vodka, maybe a little coffee liqueur, and maybe a lemon twist or a garnish of coffee beans. It can be powerfully strong and leave you nervous, like a vodka-Red Bull for the coffee connoisseur.

But there are countless ways to interpret the drink. Some are drizzled with chocolate syrup, some can be frozen and mixed. Milk or cream is optional. It can be breakfast or dessert, depending on your preference.

The most important thing, says Fhima Minneapolis bartender Nils Larsson, is balance. “You can do all kinds of weird things, as long as you have enough sugar to counteract the bitterness of the coffee,” he says.

But one ingredient that espresso martini always includes? A bit of nostalgia. Like Appletini, Cosmo and Long Island Iced Tea, this turbo cocktail is inextricably linked to turn-of-the-century decadence.

At Blue Plate Restaurant Co., the espresso martini “came onto the scene in our restaurants at a time of the general revival of the ’80s,” says co-owner Stephanie Shimp. Bringing him back was irresistible, she said. “We had to – shoulder pads, spinach dip, espresso martini.”

Three to try

The black Cat

The Grocer’s Table, 326 Broadway Ave. S., Wayzata, thegrocerstablemn.com

Black Cat Intelligentsia beans are the base of this variation of the espresso martini, which also contains amaro, coffee liqueur and vanilla syrup, and comes with a homemade biscotti.

Fhima Espresso Martini

Fhima’s Minneapolis, 40 S. 7th St., Mpls., fhimasmpls.com

Spanish liqueur Licor 43 gives it a hint of vanilla, while Irish cream and coffee liqueur give this cocktail from the balanced dessert menu a creamy and slightly sweet taste.

Blue Plate Espresso Martini

Several Twin Cities locations, blueplaterestaurantco.com

This barely-sweet cocktail from Blue Plate’s seven restaurants is made with Big Watt’s Circuit Bender Cold Press coffee and Du Nord Social Spirits’ Cafe Frieda coffee liqueur, both local brands.

Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement