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"Fast Thames": Signature drink from London

The fiery twist on an Espresso Martini

The Espresso Martini is truly a classic cocktail: elegant, invigorating, British. But our take on this all-time favourite is something else: fiery. The secret ingredient in the Fast Thames is red pepper.


The Espresso Martini has an interesting history. In the 1980s, a certain Dick Bradsell worked in what was then Fred’s Bar in London. Legend has it that a young model visited this bar one evening. Apparently, she had had a long day. She asked for a drink. A drink that would wake her up. Bradsell served her a mix of vodka, simple syrup, coffee liqueur and coffee – the Espresso Martini was born.

The gentleman of espressos

We are grateful to Bradsell and that nameless model for this London classic, but we could not resist creating our own version: the Fast Thames. What makes it so special? We leave out the coffee liqueur and replace it with home-made red-pepper syrup. That gives it a crisp, fiery note and turns this ice-cold tonic drink into an exotic sundowner. The base for the Fast Thames is the gentleman of Café Royal espressos, Agent’s Choice. Its fine notes of pepper and cinnamon – our inspiration for this drink – go perfectly with the other ingredients.



Make it quickly – drink it slowly

Apropos: you must be wondering where the Martini in Espresso Martini is. Certainly not in the ingredients. Nowadays, the bar scene adds the word “Martini” to any drink served in a Martini glass. To put an end to the confusion, we serve our cocktail in a long-drink glass. That is why the Café Royal signature drink from London is named Fast Thames, after London’s famous river, and not Thames Martini. Here’s how fast you can make it:

Ingredients for a Fast Thames (approx. 350 ml):

40 ml vodka

10 ml red-pepper syrup

25 ml Agent’s Choice (ristretto)

Ice cubes

Red peppercorns

Tonic water


Ingredients for the red-pepper syrup (200 ml):

100 ml water

100 g white sugar

1 tsp coarsely ground red pepper

Preparation time:

10 minutes for the syrup, 5 minutes for the drink



a saucepan, a cocktail shaker, long-drink glasses


Preparation: red-pepper syrup

1) Combine the sugar, water and coarsely ground red peppercorns in a saucepan and let simmer at low heat for about 5 minutes.

2) As soon as a clear mixture has formed, pour the syrup into a small bottle or jar and let it cool briefly.

Preparation: Fast Thames

1) Put the vodka, syrup and freshly brewed Agent’s Choice in your cocktail shaker and shake thoroughly.

2) Fill a long-drink glass with ice cubes and add the shaken mixture.

3) Fill the glass the rest of the way with tonic water and garnish the drink with a few red peppercorns.

An ode to London that is perfect for anyone who wants to jazz up their so-called Martini. All in the service of good taste, of course.


Agent's Choice