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One Trick Pony’s Espresso Martini (Photo credit: Ron Ulip)

If you haven’t noticed the complete and total bar take-over of the espresso martini, well… maybe you haven’t been getting out much. But if you’re looking for a reason, One Trick Pony‘s version, the Pony Up, is a pretty great excuse to pony up to their lovely coffee-bar-turned-cocktail-bar in the evenings.

The drink, so very popular in the eighties and nineties — aka, the ‘tini-palooza era — was born in 1984 when famed London bartender Dick Bradsell was behind the stick one night. A runway model in town for work strode up to his bar in the wee hours and asked him to make her the kind of drink that would both alter her tired state and, so legend goes, get her a bit tipsy (she used a different term, according to Bradsell’s daughter, Bea, who’s following in her dad’s famed footsepts, but that’s another story).

At the bar where the elder Bradsell worked, the SoHo Brasserie, a brand new espresso machine had just been installed, and he wanted to make use of the fun new toy. Originally dubbed the Vodka Espresso, he eventually tweaked the ingredients to vodka, freshly brewed espresso, coffee liqueur and simple syrup, shaken and served with three pretty espresso beans floating on its foamy top.

Reposado tequila, which is typically aged for a year or less in a barrel, is the key to One Trick Pony’s perfect Pony Up, a riff on the classic espresso martini. (Photo credit: Ron Ulip)

The reason it survived the tirade of ‘tinis is it’s a good drink. But for bar manager Dylan McLean at One Trick Pony, it seemed ripe for a slight, modern overhaul. And one that included one of the most popular spirits at the moment: tequila.

“Like many of today’s most popular cocktails, the espresso martini is a riff on a classic, which is basically understood by bartenders to mean a drink that used to be popular, was lost to time for a combination of reasons and then reinvented with more modern, quality ingredients,” he says. “We are by no means reinventing the wheel with our espresso martini, but our carefully selected ingredients and attention to technical detail — along with access to fresh espresso — have allowed it to become a standout drink on our menu and in our town.”

It makes sense in the drink, which he dubs the Pony Up: the earthy, citrusy, chocolaty notes of the house-brewed espresso from North Fork Roasting Co. meld magically with the aged tequila he uses here. And for an extra foamy top, McLean employs a technique known as dry shaking, which simply means shaking the cocktail twice, but making the first or second vigorous shake without the ice in order to add more aeration.

“We like to say that a cocktail isn’t meant to taste like any one element or flavor, and when you blend flavors carefully and create a balanced recipe, the result is something entirely its own,” he offers. “That’s our espresso martini!”

Pony Up Espresso Martini

Prep Time 3 minutes
Serves 1 cocktail


  • 2 oz Arette reposado tequila
  • 1 oz freshly brewed espresso
  • 3/4 oz Mr. Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz vanilla simple syrup
  • 3 coffee beans


  • In a Boston shaker with ice, combine first four ingredients. Shake well for 10 to 12 seconds.
  • Strain into the top half of the shaker. Discard the used ice in the bottom half. Dry shake for 5 more seconds, until nice and frothy.
  • Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with the trio of espresso beans. Cheers!