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Espresso Martini

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The original Espresso Martini comprises espresso, vodka, Kahlua, and simple syrup. It was invented in the 1980s by the bartender Dick Bradsell with the prompt “Wake me up, and then [mess] me up.” The result was a bittersweet coffee-forward cocktail.

espresso martini sitting on a white quartz countertop

This coffee cocktail aims to combine the effects of alcohol and caffeine, as some other cocktails have.

This classic cocktail sports a signature foamy top. Has a smooth yet bold, bittersweet taste.

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What You Need to Make This Cocktail

supplies to make an espresso martini

Coffee – Fresh espresso is traditionally used for this cocktail. Cold brew concentrate is an alternative but will not create the foam on the drink’s surface.

Coffee Liqueur – The classic Espresso Martini recipe calls for Kahlua. However, coffee liqueurs like Mr Black or Tia Maria work great. Mr Black is not as sweet as Kahlua, so more simple syrup can be added if you prefer a sweeter drink.

Vodka – It’s vodka. Clear and strong grain alcohol. Our go-to vodka is Absolut Vodka, but you can use whatever you prefer.

Simple Syrup – A syrup made of water and sugar. It is excellent for sweetening cold drinks. Dial in the cocktail’s sweetness by adding or subtracting simple syrup.

Garnish – Traditionally, the garnish for this cocktail is three coffee beans placed on top of it.

Ice – This will only be used in the cocktail shaker, so the shape and size can be anything if it fits into the shaker. In the shaker, the ice will chill, aerate, and dilute the drink.

Cocktail Shaker – A Boston shaker (two cups) or Cobbler Shaker (three pieces with a built-in strainer) can shake/mix this cocktail.

Cocktail Strainer – If using a Boston Shaker, you must have a cocktail strainer to keep the ice out of your finished cocktail.

Measuring Glass – A jigger can be used, but I prefer a graduated measuring glass for this cocktail.

Martini Glass – A glass with a thin stem that flares out into a wide-rim bowl.

How to Make an Espresso Martini

Start by chilling the martini glasses. You can place them in the fridge or fill them with ice.

Martini glass filled with ice surrounded by espresso beans scattered on the quartz counter top

Next, brew the espresso. Making the coffee before mixing your cocktail will give it time to cool off.

Pouring the freshly brewed espresso into a small bowl can help it cool more quickly. The cooler it is, the less the ice will melt when you shake the drink, resulting in a less diluted drink.

Now, it is time to start building the Espresso Martini!

Add 2 ounces of vodka, 1/2 ounce of Kahlua, 1 ounce of espresso, and 1/2 ounce of simple syrup to a cocktail shaker.

Add a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker. Place the lid/cup on the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 10 to 20 seconds.

Shaking will not only mix the cocktail but dilute and aerate the drink. This step also creates the fine foam or crème on the top of the drink.

Cocktail shaker with espresso martini in it with cocktail strainer sitting next to it with a martini glass in the background

After shaking the cocktail, remove the ice from the chilled martini glass or the fridge. Using a cocktail strainer, pour the cocktail into the martini glass.

Pouring the espresso martini into a martini glass

To garnish your Espresso Martini, place three espresso beans on the foamy surface of the cocktail.

Garnishing the espresso martini with a coffee bean

Tips for Making an Espresso Martini Like a Pro

  • Let the espresso cool entirely, or it will melt the ice when mixing the cocktail. Pouring the fresh espresso into a bowl and placing it in the fridge or freezer will help it cool rapidly.
  • How long and vigorously you shake the cocktail will determine how much foam will be on your espresso martini. Additionally, do not overfill the cocktail shaker with ice. The ice needs room to move to aerate the drink, creating the foam.
  • Pouring fast will ensure the foam ends up on the top of the drink.
  • Simple syrup is super easy to make if you do not have any on hand. Combine equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir the solution until the sugar is fully dissolved, and then remove from heat. Let it cool, and now it is ready to use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use something other than Kahlua?

Kahlua is traditionally used in an espresso martini, but any coffee liqueur can be used. One thing to remember is how sweet the coffee liqueur you are using is. Kahlua is on the sweeter side, while a coffee liqueur like Mr Black is on the bitter side. So, you may need to add or subtract simple syrup depending on the coffee liqueur you choose and the taste you are going for.

What gives an espresso martini a foamy top?

A fresh shot of espresso brewed in an espresso machine will produce the best foamy top. You will notice when a fresh espresso shot has a distinct layer of foam on top of it, called the crème (French for cream).

This crème is absent when you brew coffee in a French Press or use instant coffee. These alternatives will not produce a frothy espresso martini.

Adding an egg white to the shaker is an alternative to an espresso machine. It will not affect the taste. It will create a gorgeous foamy finish on your espresso martini. I would recommend getting pasteurized egg whites to mitigate the possibility of food-borne illness.

Another alternative is cocktail foam. A few drops of this in each cocktail will create a perfect foamy layer with a few drops of this.

More Delicious Drink Recipes

An Espresso Martini

Espresso Martini

A cocktail comprised of coffee liqueur, vodka, espresso, and simple syrup. It is smooth and bold. It is a bitter sweet coffee forward cocktail that is perfect for coffee and cocktail lovers.
5 from 1 vote
Print Recipe Rate
Course: Cocktails, Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cocktail, espresso martini
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 220kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • ½ oz Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)
  • 1 oz Espresso
  • ½ oz Simple Syrup
  • 3 Coffee Beans
  • Ice

Instructions

  • Chill martini glasses by filling with ice or placing them in the fridge.
  • Brew espresso and let cool.
  • Add Vodka, Kahlua, and espresso to cocktail shaker.
  • Add a handful of ice to cocktail shaker, replace lid, and then shake vigorously for 10 to 20 seconds.
  • Remove ice from the chilled glasses or remove the from the fridge.
  • Using the a cocktail strainer, pour into a chilled martini glass.
  • Garnish with 3 coffee bean.

Equipment

Jigger
Cocktail Shaker
Cocktail Strainer
Espresso Machine
Martini Glass

Notes

  • Cool espresso fully to keep to much ice from melting when shaking the drink. Pouring the fresh espresso into a bowl and placing in the fridge or freezer will help the espresso cool rapidly.
  • How long and vigorously you shake the cocktail will determine how much foam will be on the finally drink. Additionally, do not over fill the cocktail shaker with ice because the ice needs room to move so it can aerate the drink creating the foam.
  • Pouring fast will ensure the foam ends up on the top of the drink.
  • Simple syrup is super easy to make if you do not have any on hand. Combine equal part water and sugar into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir the solution until the sugar is fully dissolved and then remove from heat. Let cool and now it is ready to use.

Nutrition

Calories: 220kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 0.04g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.04g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Sodium: 14mg | Potassium: 42mg | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg
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See you soon,

Ps. This post was shared on Between Naps on The Porch.

Recipe Rating




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Tero

Monday 8th of July 2024

I tried this recipe, and it was incredibly delicious. area code

Daniel Martin

Thursday 30th of May 2024

Espresso Martini is a bitter-sweet drink, combining coffee and alcohol. A unique combination that I will definitely try with tunnel rush.

Karen Dipietro

Friday 3rd of May 2024

A useful tip for creating coffee liqueur-based cocktails, highlighting the importance of balancing sweetness and bitterness based on the specific coffee liqueur being used, four colors and personal preferences.

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