Espresso Martini

published Oct 23, 2021
Espresso Martini Recipe

Espresso, vodka, coffee liqueur, and simple syrup make up this delightful boozy cocktail. Shaken not stirred, please.

Makes1 (4-ounce) cocktail

Prep5 minutes

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espresso martinis in glasses with one being poured
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

The espresso martini is officially back — and I am definitely on board. I loved it in the ’90s and I still love it today: After all, it’s basically a caffeine boost accompanied by a boozy hug.

As it turns out, bartenders hate making espresso martinis, which is all the more reason to make your own at home. It really couldn’t be easier: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add your ingredients (vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso, and simple syrup), then shake, strain, and enjoy.

I tried a few different ratios before I landed on this one, which really allows the coffee flavors to shine. Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

What Can You Use Instead of Kahlua or Vodka?

Not a fan of vodka? Neither am I! Although not traditional, there are plenty of other options: I’ve seen people make “martinis” with bourbon, mezcal, and tequila. The Kahlua can be swapped out, too. It’s just one of many brands of coffee liqueur, so use whichever one you have or can find. Or add a creme de cacao because chocolate and coffee flavors play well together.

Have fun playing around with your favorite spirits to customize this cocktail to your own palate. I made a version with Luxardo, tequila, and Kahlua, and was pretty thrilled with the results. You can also infuse your simple syrup with cinnamon, cardamom, or any spice that plays well with coffee.

How Do You Make an Espresso Martini Frothy? 

The best way to make an espresso martini frothy is to use a shot of espresso. Although I’ve listed cold brew as an option here and found it to be a tasty way to enjoy this cocktail, you won’t get the same signature froth.

What Is an Espresso Martini Served In? 

Serve your espresso martini in either a martini glass or any wide-mouthed drinking vessel. If you’re using a wine glass, be sure to pour carefully to avoid splashing.

You can garnish the top by dusting coffee grounds onto the surface of the froth, or decoratively placing a few coffee beans in the center of the drink.

Espresso Martini Recipe

Espresso, vodka, coffee liqueur, and simple syrup make up this delightful boozy cocktail. Shaken not stirred, please.

Prep time 5 minutes

Makes 1 (4-ounce) cocktail

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces

    vodka

  • 1 ounce

    coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua

  • 1 ounce

    espresso or cold brew

  • 1/2 ounce

    simple syrup

  • Coffee beans or finely ground coffee for garnish

Instructions

  1. Prepare 1 ounce espresso and let cool to room temperature or in the refrigerator.

  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1 1/2 ounces vodka, 1 ounce coffee liqueur, 1 ounce espresso or cold brew, and 1/2 ounce simple syrup. Cover the shaker, pressing to seal, and shake vigorously until the metal shaker is very cold to the touch, about 20 seconds. Pour through a strainer, into a martini glass and garnish.

  3. Different garnish options:

    • Decoratively place 1 or 3 coffee beans directly on top.
    • Finely grate coffee beans with a microplane over the top.
    • Pour finely ground coffee or instant espresso into a fine mesh strainer and dust over the top. You can use this method with a piece of paper over half the cocktail to dust one half only for a more dramatic presentation.

Recipe Notes

Ingredient substitution: You can substitute the espresso for cold brew, but it will not foam on top the same way the espresso version does.

Make ahead: The espresso can be made and cooled ahead of time.