From 4 – 6 November, Melbourne celebrated its love for coffee and liquor at Mr Black’s inaugural Festival of the Espresso Martini Festival.
Held under the carnival lights of the Melbourne Meat Market, about 2050 visitors gathered for the unique festival, drinking espresso martinis, eating street food and socialising to the background beats of local DJs.
“It couldn’t have gone any better for our first festival,” says Mr Black Founder Tom Baker.
More than 5000 espresso martinis were consumed over the three-day event.
Tom says he was overwhelmed to see the demand for the festival. When the first day sold out, event organisers launched a second, which sold out in 60 seconds. A third date was then added.
“We know that Melbourne loves its coffee but it also have a real appreciation for a good espresso martini. It’s Melbourne’s city drink. I also think it’s popular because coffee is experiencing a real renaissance in bars at the moment, so we’re seeing a resurgence of the espresso martini because of that,” Tom says. “This festival is our love letter to Melbourne. We just wanted a big coffee party with all our friends in the one room, and that’s what we’ve achieved.”
Mr Black’s friends are some of Melbourne’s most popular food and drink producers, and coffee roasters including Campos Coffee, MilkLab, Fancy Hank and Ketel One Vodka, all of whom excited at the event.
“I love the moment people walked into this beautiful room of amazing producers, try their products, and leave amazed at what they experienced. We’re stocked we could bring enjoyment and fun to such a large number of people through combining coffee and liquor,” Tom says.
The festival wasn’t only about showcasing Mr Black’s famed Espresso Martinis, but stretching the perception of what coffee liquors could be, from cold brew-fused beverages to coffee coladas.
On the Campos Coffee stand visitors could try a limited edition Cascara Melbourne Moonshine, and a cascara-infused Sicilian blood orange beverage that had vacuum-sealed campari with coffee beans, and added moonshine.
“Participating at the festival has challenged us to produce a new offering for customers. Not everyone wants a hot coffee past 2pm, so we’ve produced a refreshing Cascara Melbourne Moonshine drink that celebrates what’s going on around coffee,” Campos Coffee’s John Thompson. “Cascara is such a great product that’s too often wasted at origin. We’ve worked together with Melbourne Moonshine and produced a limited edition supply of our Cascara Moonshine just for this festival.”
Over at official Milk Sponsor MilkLab’s stand, festivalgoers could select from a range of espresso-based cocktails. This included its Smith Street beverage, which highlighted MilkLab’s almond with Mr Black and Pampero Rum, and a Coffee Colada with MilkLab coconut, Mr Black, rum, pineapple and lime. The menu also included Almond Chai-Tinis, Coconut Coladas and Flat White Russians.
“We want to position Milklab at the forefront of the coffee industry,” says Milklab Representative Angelo De Blasio. “At the heartland of MilkLab is innovation, and that’s certainly the direction coffee has evolved into over the past 20 years. Coffee has migrated past the coffee world into the restaurant scene – you only have to look at the top of a restaurant’s drink menu to spot the espresso martini.”
While not confirmed, Festival of the Espresso Martini event organisers have hinted that Sydney and Adelaide espresso martini lovers.