Espresso martinis have become a staple of cocktail lists across London, and we have added our own Oklava touch. At the restaurant we use a Cypriot brandy called Anglias, which is available online, but any good-quality brandy would do. If you don’t have an espresso machine, we recommend brewing a strong, full-bodied coffee in a cafetière and letting it sit for 30 minutes or so, straining it before use. You can add a garnish of candied date to the rim, if you like, but this requires some advance preparation: coat sliced dried dates in sugar syrup, then leave them to harden and cool.
½ tablespoon fennel seeds
125g (4½oz) dried dates
175ml (6fl oz) boiling water
150ml (5fl oz) good-quality vodka
150ml (5fl oz) brandy
350ml (12fl oz) espresso or strong coffee
candied dates, to garnish (optional)
Toast the fennel seeds gently in a dry pan over a high heat for 60–90 seconds, or until lightly coloured. Finely chop the dried dates – whizz them in the food processor if possible – and combine them in a bowl with the boiling water and the fennel seeds. Leave overnight to infuse. It should make a thick purée, but you might need to water it down slightly to give a pourable consistency.
To serve, for each person fill a cocktail shaker or a large screwtop jar with ice and add 25ml (¾fl oz) vodka, 25ml (¾fl oz) brandy, 60ml (2¼fl oz) espresso and 40ml (1½fl oz) date purée. Shake hard for a few minutes to create the signature foamy top, then strain into a cocktail glass, making sure no ice falls in the drink.
Oklava is available here.