The Meletti Family has been producing spirits since the 1870s, and they are one of Europe’s largest makers of Sambuca and Anisette. More recently, their amaro with its grapefruit and honey profile has become one of the darlings of the modern American cocktail scene. Now another Meletti expression has arrived stateside, Meletti Coffee. Coffee liqueurs fall into two basic categories – A) This tastes like coffee mixed with booze, and B) This tastes like coffee should taste, evoking notes of chocolate, cinnamon, nuts, berries, earth, and even anise. Meletti Coffee falls in the latter camp.
Immediately, intense dark chocolate and blueberry aromas meet my nose in the glass with a suggestion of raisin. Vanilla starts before a drop hits the tongue and becomes the strongest throughline in the entire experience, which I personally welcome in just about any liqueur. Meletti actually cops to adding chocolate, which is a rarity among Italian liqueur producers in general and coffee liqueur producers specifically. It’s not surprising then that the full gamut of that flavor saturates the palate, complemented by a creamy texture. Salted caramel makes a cameo on the back end before the finish turns to milk chocolate and anise.
The elephant in the room whenever one says the word coffee in a cocktail bar is always “How is it in an espresso martini!?” So, I put it to the “1am buzz is wearing off in this club” test and plugged it into a basic Espresso Martini build (recipe below). I’m happy to report that this is where Meletti Coffee really shined. Despite the cream element that should have muted some of the more subtle characteristics, the fruit and spice really asserted themselves, while blueberry and raisin notes stepped into the limelight. I could also swear there were a few drops of sambuca in this application, as it was doing its best Caffe Corretto impersonation. Would I drink a double of this liqueur on its own? Perhaps. Should you graduate to this bottle to keep the cheapest 20-somethings out of your bar? 100% yes.
B+ / $26 / opiciwinesandspirits.com
Test Track Espresso Martini
2 oz. coffee liqueur (in this case Meletti Coffee)
1 oz. espresso
1 oz. oat milk (or your cream element of choice)
.25 oz. 1:1 simple syrup
Add all ingredients to the shaker after the espresso has cooled for two minutes, shake on ice for 12-15 seconds, strain through fine mesh strainer, serve up, garnish with a trinity of coffee beans.