THE BRILLIANT WOMAN'S GUIDE TO A VERY MODERN BOOK CLUB
The Literary Companion
The flat white martini is fast becoming the drink to serve at modern book clubs. Writer Rachel Ward charts its rise
Cocktails and book clubs go together like Charlie and chocolate, Heathcliff and Cathy, Thelma and Louise… But deciding what to serve can sometimes prove as difficult as choosing what to read. One way to toast the occasion and ensure flowing conversation is with another classic combination: coffee and liqueur.
People have been mixing these two drinks together since as early as the 1800s. The Swedes added vodka to coffee, creating ‘kaffekask’, while the Italians opted for grappa and called it ‘caffè corretto’. But it wasn’t until the 1940s that this pairing achieved cult status on a global scale. That’s when Joe Sheridan, a chef at Ireland’s Shannon Airport, first added whiskey to coffee to warm up the passengers disembarking from a Pan Am flying boat one cold evening. When asked what it was, he replied ‘Irish coffee’ and a classic was born.
The next incarnation of this double act came in the 1980s. Word has it that while tending the bar at London’s Soho Brasserie, cocktail guru Dick Bradsell gave a famous model something new to try – a double shot of vodka with very strong coffee. This soon morphed into the espresso martini and became the drink of the decade.
The latest contender for the coffee/liqueur crown was imagined in 2014 at The Blind Pig in London’s Soho. While out for dinner with colleagues, Caroline Pay, a creative director, wanted a drink that was similar to an espresso martini, only smoother. She asked the bartender to pair Baileys Original Irish Cream with Smirnoff vodka and a shot of espresso. An instant hit with the table, she christened it the Baileys Flat White Martini. The modern woman’s cocktail of choice, it’s the perfect accompaniment to any literary gathering.