I am not a fan of flavoured coffees. Vanilla and caramel belong in ice cream sundaes in my opinion. If coffee must be tampered with, then let it be adulterated with liqueur.
My parents and their Italian friends loved a drop of grappa (grape brandy) in their short blacks. As a child, I couldn’t see the attraction of this “caffe corretto” except it was probably very warming in winter. Of course it was, it’s 40-60% alcohol!
Years later, embracing 1980s’ long working lunches, my arts festival colleagues and I developed a Sambuca habit with our post-meal short blacks. Sometimes drunk separately with the traditional three coffee beans* floating in the shot glass; sometimes set on fire to create a Flaming Sambuca … but mostly poured into the coffee to create a kick-ass finish to the meal. Happy days.
Move to September 2012, and the Italian Film Festival organisers have tampered nicely with coffee, inventing the Mocha Martini. Two nights ago I made the mistake of sampling one or two of these at the festival opening night party at Palace Cinemas in Leichhardt.
I have no complaints with the taste of the cocktail – an elegant mix of Lavazza espresso, Galliano Ristretto, vodka and Bols White Cacao. The mistake was sampling the cocktail after Prosecco sparkling wine and shiraz, the caffeine unleashing my inner dancefloor maniac.
A salsa tragic in the early noughties but now suffering from chronic dancefloor avoidance syndrome, I resurrected every Latin American move I’d ever learnt. My arms now ache from something called the Sombrero move and my arthritis got a wakeup call during the three piece combo’s version of Madonna’s Holiday.
The Mocha Martini hangover was not pretty but neither was my mother’s favourite headache remedy: half a cup of strong coffee with the juice of half a lemon. Imagine swallowing that and surviving. Perhaps I should have taken the Italian equivalent of the hair of the dog: an espresso with grappa alongside my breakfast croissant.
* Supposedly, the garnish of the three coffee beans in the Sambuca represents health, happiness and prosperity. The beans floating in the glass are thought to resemble flies and chewed after drinking to enhance the flavour of the anise-based liqueur.
The Lavazza Italian Film Festival continues at Palace Cinemas throughout Australia until 28 October.
Photo top left courtesy Palace Cinemas
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