There are a few things that Timothée Chalamet has that I, and many other people between the ages of oh, say 18 to 45, aspire to have. His cheekbones. His thick, curly hair that manages to look tousled, not tangled (my bedhead achieves the opposite). Probably his eyelashes (because men with thick, dark hair usually have long, dark eyelashes, too). And a piece of his heart. Why Timothée asked Larry David and not me on a date to drink espresso martinis at Sant Ambreous is beyond me, but let the chips fall where they may.
For some context about a month ago, Timothée was spotted sipping espresso martinis with Larry David the day after the 25-year-old co-chaired the Met Gala. The two actors got a little tipsy at Sant Ambroeus, a pricey, celeb-sprinkled Italian restaurant with multiple locations in the ritziest parts of the country.
It wasn't Timothée's denim vest or fiery gym shorts that caught my attention (OK, it was). It wasn't his jaw line or his clubmaster sunglasses (OK, it was also those). It was his drink of choice — an espresso martini. I think about Timothée often, but admittedly his drink choice wasn't something I ever gave much consideration to. Sure, he's a worldly former-NYU student with deep pockets and a fluency in French, which would indicate that he knows his way around the Loire Valley. He's not exactly a man about town, so there's not much known about his food and drink choices. An espresso martini was surprising, but I'm here for it.
After the photos of Timothée and Larry went viral, I was on a date with my fiancé, who is not Timothée but still pretty great. As we walked through the West Village, I couldn't help but notice that at every trendy bar and restaurant, from Dante to Palma and yes, Sant Ambreous, on every table, diners had their masks, hand sanitizer, cell phones, and an espresso martini.
It could be the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Like when I determined that my future soccer mom car will be a Volkswagon Atlas and I suddenly started seeing them everywhere. Because I was aware that handsome people like Timothée ordered espresso martinis, I began to notice them more and more. If Timothée had ordered a spicy mezcal paloma, would there be an influx of fiery cocktails? It's possible. But cocktail experts say it's always been popular. "The drink is a perfect digestif, so people love to finish their meal with an espresso martini. In addition, the combination of the coffee and liquor seem to create a buzz that kickstarts their evening (or even sometimes their afternoon)," says Eloy Pacheco, head bartender at Dante, in regards to the popularity of the drink.
Regardless of whether or not its moment is fleeting, I had to get my hands — if not on Timothée — on an espresso martini. So I turned to two drinks experts to learn how to craft one.
How to make the perfect espresso martini
Let's shake things up a bit. "As with any good cocktail, you're looking for balance. With espresso you don't want to hide the flavor of the coffee; something too sweet won't be pleasant after a few sips," says Jena Ellenwood, an award-winning bartender and cocktail educator. A traditional espresso martini is made with vodka, coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua), freshly brewed espresso or cold brew concentrate, simple syrup, and coffee beans for garnish. No espresso maker? No problem! Ellenwood says that you can use cold brew concentrate or Mr. Black coffee liqueur as a 1:1 substitute for the espresso.
To make it, just add all of the ingredients (minus the coffee beans) to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake, shake, shake until the shaker feels exceptionally chilled and the contents are frothy. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass (a martini or coupe glass works great) and garnish with a few coffee beans. Complete the look with Oliver Peoples sunglasses, an oversized white t-shirt, and a gold chain necklace . . . oh wait, this wasn't an explainer on how to become Timothée Chalamet? Oops, my bad.
Use the best vodka
Using good-quality vodka is key to making a good espresso martini. Dante uses Grey Goose, but Pacheco also recommends Ketel One or Absolut as an easy substitute. Ellenwood prefers potato-based vodka such as Chopin because it has a creamier texture, which helps to create a luscious mouthfeel with each sip of the martini.
You can also swap out the base spirit with rum or whiskey, which are both delicious in espresso martinis, says Ellenwood.
Making it foamy
"The drink is visually spectacular, so we see a lot of guests coming into the bar and showing us pictures from Instagram," says Pacheco. The trick to making a frothy, foamy, gram-worthy espresso martini that would woo Timothée is shaking all of the ingredients vigorously in a cocktail shaker for at least 30 seconds. "No one wants a flat looking espresso martini," says Ellenwood.