By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business
It might be 2022, but people are still ordering espresso martinis like it’s the 90s.
The coffee-flavored drink has experienced such a resurgence that it has entered the top 10 list of most ordered cocktails at US bars this year, according to research firm CGA by Nielsen IQ. The espresso martini has even displaced the classic Manhattan, a bourbon-based cocktail, in the top 10.
CGA by NielsenIQ, which tracks cocktails sales at US bars, reported that the margarita remains the country’s top-selling cocktail.
It’s not just nostalgia espresso martinis’ renaissance. Lisa Hawkins, senior vice president for public affairs for the Distilled Spirits Council, told CNN Business that the “convergence of two major US consumer trends: Americans’ affinity for high-end coffee and cocktail culture” explains why it’s having a moment.
“Spirits consumers are drawn to the simplicity and decadence of this cocktail,” she said. “The elegance of the espresso martini elevates your cocktail experience at a bar or restaurant, and it also serves as an impressive after-dinner cocktail when entertaining guests at home.”
The espresso martini is a mix of vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso. It’s a relatively young drink, reportedly invented at a London bar in the 1980s when a model asked for a drink to “wake me up and f–k me up,” inventor and famed bartender Dick Bradsell once said.
People’s obsession with espresso martinis has also benefited Kahlúa’s bottom line. The Pernod Ricard brand recently said that sales hit a new record, growing by double digits globally.
Espresso martinis have also made the 86-year-old brand more appealing to younger drinkers, according to Rima Sawaya, Kahlúa’s brand director.
“Consumers are craving anything nostalgic, as evident by the resurgence of trends from the ’80s and ’90s in fashion, music, and of course, cocktails,” she told CNN Business. She added that the drink has “allowed a new generation of cocktail-curious consumers to taste and experience Kahlúa.”
Other beverage giants are taking notice of the trend, too. in September, Baileys maker Diageo bought Mr. Black, a coffee liqueur that’s mixed with cold brew coffee and can be consumed straight from the bottle (no mixing needed). A purchase price wasn’t disclosed.
Espresso martinis are expected to remain popular next year, too.
“Looking ahead, we anticipate consumers will not only continue to enjoy this incredible and classic ’80s-era martini, but also look for new and fun ways to enjoy it year-round — and with different spirits like tequila or whiskey in place of vodka,” Sawaya said.
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