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Cocktail Stories: Espresso Zabaione

How do you take one of the world’s most popular cocktails to the next level? Add decadence and liquid nitrogen, according to Australia’s Eau de Vie.

Andy Griffiths of Australia's Eau de Vie has reinvented the classic Espresso Martini
Andy Griffiths of Australia’s Eau de Vie has reinvented the classic Espresso Martini

If you want to reinvent a classic cocktail, the Espresso Martini is a tricky place to start – the well­-known mix of fresh coffee, vanilla vodka and coffee liqueur has taken the world by storm.

Eau de Vie, which has venues in Sydney and Melbourne, approached this challenge by adding “wow factor, theatre and liquid nitrogen”, according to head bartender Andy Griffiths. “The Zabaione is one of the most iconic Eau de Vie cocktails,” he says. “Even before Instagram it was one of our most recognisable cocktails on social media.”

The bar’s twist on the classic cocktail sees it combine vodka, cold­-extract coffee and coffee liqueur in a glass, before topping the cocktail with a layer of saffron and vanilla mousse, and freezing the whole drink with liquid nitrogen.

“We used liquid nitrogen in the bar every night to rapidly chill ingredients, make fogs and all sorts of other applications,” explains Griffiths. “It seemed like a good fit to finish the drink at the table, with liquid nitrogen partially freezing the layer of saffron and vanilla mousse into a sort of ice cream.”

As soon as word of the cocktail began spreading, its reputation as one of Australia’s most Instagramable drinks was firmly cemented.

Griffiths says: “Visitors from across the globe would come into the bar and request it after seeing photos of it online or on their friends’ Facebook pages. We have also found quite a few versions in other bars around the world since.”

Having been on the menu at Eau de Vie’s Sydney and Melbourne sites for years, the drink’s recipe remains unchanged. “We still sell more than 400 Zabaione’s in an average week,” says Griffiths. Its eye-­catching visual spectacle means bartenders are inundated with requests for “one of those” throughout every shift.

Click through to the next page for a list of ingredients and how to recreate the Espresso Zabaione at home. 

Eau de Vie's Espresso Zabaione
Eau de Vie’s Espresso Zabaione


40ml Wyborowa Vodka

15ml Tia Maria

15ml Little Drippa cold-extracted coffee

10ml Maple syrup

Saffron and vanilla mousse

Method: In a cocktail shaker, combine all the ingredients except the saffron and vanilla mousse. Shake the mixture to chill and combine, before fine straining into a serving glass.

Top the drink with the whipped saffron and vanilla mousse before freezing with liquid nitrogen.

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