Should You Add Parmesan to Your Next Espresso Martini?

The sweet and salty flavors of this controversial TikTok concoction have potential.

Just when you’ve finally gotten used to the idea of Starbucks adding olive oil to coffee, along comes another unusual drink concoction that’s taken the internet by storm: the parmesan espresso martini. Before you roll your eyes and say “no thanks,” consider how enjoyable a cup of coffee is with a cheese omelet for breakfast or a cappuccino with cheesecake for dessert. In Northern Scandinavia, kaffeost is a popular hot drink made of coffee and a cube of cheese, and across Colombia, locals love their café con queso. So, while it may sound a little peculiar, pairing cheese with coffee beverages isn’t a new concept.

Creator @nic.hamilton went viral on TikTok making the cocktail, captioning his video (which now has more than 1 million views and nearly 250,000 likes), “So I guess we’re just doing things now huh.” He’s skeptical in the beginning, but after trying it he admits he can taste a subtle salty flavor—and “we already know salty and sweet works,” he says. Jordan Hughes, the bartender known as @highproofpreacher on TikTok, also made a parmesan espresso martini in this video, reaching more than 279,000 views. Hughes says of his bartender-friend who insisted he make it, “He could just be trolling me, but we’re going to try it anyway.” After a sip, Hughes says, “I regret to inform you that was kind of awesome.”

Espresso martini and bowl of shredded parmesan

Left: Joakim Carlstrom / Getty Images; Right: jirkaejc / Getty Images | Design: Better Homes & Gardens

Many commenters had their doubts. One viewer, @highlonesome, said, “This is just a mockery of real drinkers of alcohol; they are just trolling us now.” Others found it interesting and even had creative ideas for improving the recipe, including infusing the vodka with parmesan cheese.

The ingredients for a parmesan espresso martini are the same as a regular espresso martini, but instead of garnishing it with coffee beans, grated parmesan tops it off. If you want to try making one at home, here are the ingredients you'll need:

  • Shot of espresso
  • 1 oz. coffee liqueur
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Ice
  • Parmesan cheese

The coffee liqueur adds a touch of sweetness, which plays well with the parmesan cheese’s bite and the espresso’s bitterness. Hughes makes a point of saying he uses espresso from a local coffee shop, which for this distinct indulgence, seems like a better option than bottled or canned espresso bought at the grocery store. If you have an espresso machine at home, even better.

Hughes has a few suggestions for making a parmesan espresso martini perfectly delicious. Use fresh parmesan and grate the cheese (preferably aged 24 months or more) with a microplane grater instead of a larger cheese grater. Use the cheese sparingly—it’s meant to be a garnish, after all. Use pebble ice in the martini glass for the best pre-pour chill, and keep in mind that while you can add simple syrup, the coffee liqueur should add enough sweetness.

Will parmesan espresso martinis be the drink of the spring? It's hard to say, but one thing is certain—it won't be too long until another eyebrow-raising cocktail captures TikTok's attention.

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