A return to relevance

Portico’s espresso martini gets a boost from MadCap.

The 1990s are cool again, apparently.

Much has been made the past few years of the ’90s trying to make a return to cultural relevance. Earlier this year, the New York Times style section wrote about the decade’s fashion trends making their return, concluding: “After all, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Those who learn from it, on the other hand, can wear their wisdom well.”

Trends come back around, like it or not. But one thing to be excited about that is making a return to menus is the espresso martini.

The drink has made a raucous comeback at bars across the country and set the drinks media world on fire — at least giving it something to talk about other than hard seltzers.

Grand Rapids is no different. In fact, it was perhaps the brightest highlight at a stop at Portico, one of downtown’s newest establishments. Portico opened in September at Canopy by Hilton Grand Rapids Downtown, 131 Ionia Ave. SW.

The vibe at Portico is very much upscale hotel lobby, and while it might not be the most romantic dining spot, it is perfect for a pre- or post-event drink and snack, whether you’ve made your way to a concert at Van Andel Arena or a movie at Celebration Cinema Studio Park.

And when you grab one of the cozy seats at Portico, make sure one of the drinks is the Madcap Martini, which uses espresso from one of the country’s best coffee roasters, Grand Rapids’ own Madcap Coffee.

The result is a creamy, slightly sweet, slightly bitter and warming concoction that tastes like an iced mocha. A few crunchy espresso beans as a garnish really caps off a nice fall cocktail.

The idea of an espresso martini is far from new in Grand Rapids, however. Near Studio Park, Bistro Bella Vita has featured an espresso martini on its expansive martini menu for years — at least two decades. This espresso martini is more along the lines of the classic version of the cocktail, simple with vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso.

It’s a little less chocolatey than its new neighbor, but that’s just fine for coffee lovers.

This story can be found in the November/December 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here

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