Crafted with two liquors and a shot of espresso, the Espresso Martini may be the buzziest cocktail of them all. Discover the story behind the tasty tipple and learn how to craft one at home.
The Espresso Martini is a dream drink for multi-taskers. Not only does the popular cocktail look and taste divine, but its combination of alcohol and caffeine provides an effective punch that alleviates the necessity to chug a Red Bull at the end of the night.
Make no mistake – this caffeinated cocktail isn’t for lightweights or teetotalers. Instead, it’s a serious drink for people who like staying alert while getting a buzz. And the best part? The Espresso Martini is super easy to craft at home.
History of the Espresso Martini Cocktail
Despite having ingredients associated with Italy, Mexico and Russia, the Espresso Martini doesn’t have roots in any of these countries. A fixture at Australian bars and pubs, it’s also not from down under. Instead, the United Kingdom gets credit for this caffeinated cocktail.
This drink’s origin story involves a London bartender and an early 80s supermodel who wanted a cocktail that would “wake her up and then f**k her up .” The bartender was Dick Bradsell and the bar was the Soho Brasserie. As for the thirsty model’s name, that remains a mystery.
Dick Bradsell invented a handful of cocktails including the Bramble, the Carol Channing, the Russian Spring Punch, the Treacle and the Wibble. However, the prolific bartender’s Espresso Martini is the one that has achieved icon status.
What Is an Espresso Martini?
Originally called a Vodka Espresso, the Espresso Martini is a modern cocktail that combines espresso with vodka and coffee liqueur to create double potency in a glass.
It goes without saying that the Espresso Martini is a caffeinated beverage since each shot of espresso has 64 grams of caffeine. And that’s not counting the caffeine in the coffee liqueur!
We use a Nespresso machine to make espresso at home which technically makes our cocktail a Nespresso Martini. Since it takes us just a couple minutes to pop a pod into the machine, we can be spontaneous when the Espresso Martini (or should we say Nespresso Martini?) craving hits us.
Beyond containing a solid amount of caffeine, the Espresso Martini also has a fairly high alcohol content. The good and bad news is that this cocktail doesn’t taste particularly strong. In other words, be extra careful not to over imbibe when you drink Espresso Martinis.
Espresso Martini Ingredients
We love crafting cocktails with ingredients we can count on one hand. The Espresso Martini fits into this category with the its concise ingredient list:
While some mixologists add simple syrup when they craft Espresso Martinis, our Espresso Martini recipe omits the liquid sweetener.
We don’t add sugar to our non-alcoholic coffees and flat whites and we follow the same approach here. We find that the coffee liqueur provides plenty of sweetness; however, you can add simple sugar to the ingredient list if you prefer more sugary cocktails.
Not only does Kahlúa taste delicious over ice, the dark Mexican coffee liqueur is also a key ingredient in Black Russian, White Russian and Mudslide cocktails. Other popular coffee liqueurs include Australia’s Mr. Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur and Jamaica’s Tia Maria.
While you could technically craft cocktail with regular coffee, don’t do it!
Not only does espresso have a specific flavor and consistency, but it also has a creamy element called crema. Without crema, your Espresso Martini won’t have a frothy top layer and your coffee beans will tragically sink to the bottom of the glass.
Chill freshly brewed espresso about 15 minutes before you craft an Espresso Cocktail. Otherwise, your hot espresso will melt the ice which will dilute the cocktail.
How to Craft an Espresso Martini
Beyond an espresso maker, our Espresso Martini recipe only requires the following tools:
None of these bar tools is expensive; however, you can improvise in a pinch. For example, you could use an angled measuring cup if you don’t have a jigger on hand.
Discover 10 necessary bar tools for lazy mixologists.
The first step in crafting an Espresso Martini is to measure the vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso. We like to use a Japanese jigger to both avoid spillage and ensure accurate measurements.
Click here to buy a Japanese jigger if you don’t have one or if you want to make an inexpensive jigger upgrade.
Pour the vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso into a cocktail shaker as you measure each. We like using a Boston shaker since it doesn’t leak and is dishwasher safe.
Click here to buy a Boston shaker if you don’t have a shaker or if you want to improve your at-home mixology experience.
The next step is to vigorously shake the ingredients with ice for about 30 seconds until they are thoroughly mixed and chilled.
Don’t be wimpy when shaking this cocktail. If you do, you’ll end up with an equally wimpy layer of froth.
The final step is to strain the cocktail into a martini glass and garnish with three coffee beans. While you could use a different number of beans, using three beans symbolizes health, wealth and happiness in Italy. That’s a good enough reason for us. Plus, a trio of beans looks snazzy on top of this cocktail.
Click here to buy a pair of Riedel martini glasses on Amazon.
Espresso Martini Alternatives
The Espresso Martini may be the world’s most popular espresso-based cocktail but it’s not the only cocktail to drink when you want an alcoholic pick-me-up. Consider the following caffeinated options If you feel like experimenting:
Espresso Martini Recipe
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce coffee liqueur
- 1 ounce espresso, chilled
- 3 coffee beans
- ice cubes
- Combine vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso and ice cubes in a shaker.
- Shake vigorously for 30 seconds until the cocktail is well mixed, chilled and frothy.
- Strain into a martini glass.
- Add coffee beans as garnish.
- Add a 1/2 ounce of simple syrup if you want to craft a sweet Espresso Martini.
- You can use coffee instead of espresso; however, you won't get the same frothy top layer.
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Premium Cocktail Shaker Set: Two-Piece Pro Boston Shaker Set. Unweighted 18oz & Weighted 28oz Martini Drink Shaker made from Stainless Steel 304
OXO SteeL Cocktail Strainer
Japanese Jigger - Premium Double Cocktail Jigger, 1oz/2oz made from Stainless Steel 304
Nespresso BEC430TTN Pixie Espresso Machine by Breville, Titan
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 484Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 894mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 10gSugar: 31gProtein: 13g
Nutrition Disclosure: We used an online calculator to calculate this information. Though 2foodtrippers.com has attempted to secure accurate data, these nutritional figures are estimates.
Thirsty for More Cocktails?
Try our Absinthe Frappe, Amaretto Sour, Americano, Aperol Spritz, Aviation, Bee’s Knees, Bijou, Black Russian, Boulevardier, Brandy Alexander, Caipirinha, Clover Club, Daiquiri, Diplomat, Dirty Shirley, Eggnog, Emerald, French 75, G+T, Gibson, Gimlet, Grasshopper, Hemingway Daiquiri, Hugo Spritz, Hurricane, Irish Coffee, Kir Royale, Last Word, Manhattan, Maple Bourbon Smash, Martinez, Mauresque, Milk Punch, Mint Julep, Mojito, Moscow Mule, Mudslide, Negroni, New York Sour, Old Fashioned, Paper Plane, Pimm’s Cup, Pink Lady, Porto Tonico, Ramos Gin Fizz, Revolver, Sazerac, Sidecar, Spicy Margarita, Tipperary, Tomate, Vieux Carré, Whiskey Ginger, Whiskey Sour, White Lady and White Russian cocktail recipes.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.