Espresso Legend: Marco Arrigo on Cocktails & That Espresso Martini Story

We love an Espresso Martini. Fact. So when we met the brain behind the beans in Bar Termini (Tony C’s epic Italian joint in Soho) we had to get ALL the goss.

Meet Marco Arrigo:

So tell us, is the myth about you making the coffee for Dick Bradsell’s Espresso Martini true?

The story of me standing next to Dick Bradsell when it was made isn't entirely true... but he did use an Illy espresso which I had made. This came to be misunderstood as me being there when it was created.  (NB. BarChick heard that Dick made the first ever Espresso Martini for a supermodel who asked for something that would “wake her up and f*ck her up”.)  I telephoned Dick at the time, very embarrassed, but he just laughed and found the whole thing amusing.

What’s your favourite coffee cocktail?

I used to go to a restaurant in Turin, where the owner made a mix of spirits and spices that he mixed into the house coffee. Everyone would order it to try and dissect the recipe, trying to figure out the individual ingredients that made it so delicious, but the owner guarded his recipe so stoically; even going to the lengths to make it upstairs in secret so not even the staff knew how he did it! That will always be my favourite, though to this day I don’t know what’s in it!

Why do you think London’s so hot on the Espresso Martini?

Well, it’s easy to understand why people love Espresso Martinis so much – it’s such a great clean drink and in the immortal words of one famous supermodel it does pick you up and f*ck you up! In fact, the drink is so clean and balanced that if a different brand of vodka or coffee is introduced, it’s really easy to tell.

And what are your favourite bars to drink them in?

I couldn't say which is my favourite bar to drink an Espresso Martini in; most good bartenders can make a decent one! But I will say that if you pour hot espresso over ice you’re making a filter coffee – so technically, the drink is an Americano Martini. It isn’t the same, so try to avoid making that mistake and let the pure espresso chill before using it.

What are your plans for London Coffee Festival?

I’ll be on the Illy stand on Thursday and Friday, and on Sunday I’ll be running a special LCF Coffee Masterclass at 10.30am at Termini in Soho. It’s a free class and will be really fun for coffee lovers, you’ll learn all about how to make it the real Italian way.

If you could make a coffee for one person dead or alive who would it be?

If I’m honest the one person whose opinion really matters to me more than anyone’s is Andrea Illy (the Illy CEO). I was really worried about his opinion on what we were doing with his beans at Bar Termini, as we changed the recipe completely. In the end he loved it and even tweeted about it,  but I’ll always wonder what his father Ernesto would have thought if he was still with us.

Big up someone you’ve met along the way

The maître d' Jon Spiteri – a legend in the industry and a snappy dresser to boot!

And finally, how do you drink your coffee?

I can only drink espresso now, it’s like a cigar smoker going back to roll ups – unthinkable!

Spaces for the free coffee workshop at Bar Termini on Sunday 3rd May 2015 can be reserved by emailing

Bar Termini - Espresso