The Espresso Martini is a classic cocktail made with vodka, coffee liqueur, simple syrup and freshly brewed espresso. This version comes together in just 10 minutes and makes the perfect drink to enjoy during happy hour, after dinner, or with brunch.
⭐️ Why We Love This Cocktail
This modern classic cocktail is said to have been created by bartender Dick Bradsell in London back in the 80's.
While this drink gained popularity in London's nightlife scene, the combination of vodka and espresso also has deep roots in Italy.
Regardless of the origin, the espresso martini combines two drinks we know and love for a sophisticated cocktail.
It's a deliciously fun way to get a caffeine boost while also indulging with a bit of booze.
If you enjoy it, be sure to check out this collection of my favorite cocktails.
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Here's everything you will need to make your espresso martini:
- Espresso (make sure to use freshly roasted & ground espresso beans)
- Coffee liqueur
- Simple syrup (optional)
See recipe card for quantities.
Some versions of this classic cocktail do not include any simple syrup, as the coffee liqueur lends a healthy dose of sweetness on its own. Feel free to skip the simple syrup if desired.
👩🍳 Step by Step Instructions
Brew the espresso & chill. Once the espresso is brewed, transfer to a fresh glass (it will cool even faster if the glass is chilled) to cool.
Bonus points if you transfer it to a glass that's been chilling in the freezer as it helps to cool the coffee faster.
Hint: You can also toss some ice in another glass and your martini glass and discard before serving, to chill them quickly.
Shake all ingredients. In a cocktail shaker add ice, the chilled espresso, vodka, coffee liqueur, and simple syrup. Shake well and pour into a chilled martini glass.
Garnish. Top the foam with three coffee beans. Enjoy!
Important Tip: To ensure you get that signature foamy topping, remove the strainer from the top of your cocktail shaker before pouring.
That Signature Frothy Topping
One of the most special aspects of the espresso martini is that signature frothy topping.
This fun texture comes from freshly brewed espresso, which means the method you use to brew your coffee as well as the grind is really important.
The best tool to make espresso for this cocktail is an espresso machine. That said, I know this machine is a hefty investment and not practical in every kitchen.
If you don't have one, you can read up about alternative methods to brew espresso. I've used a French Press and a Moka Pot for this recipe before. Just know that these methods will not produce the same foam that a proper machine does.
An alternative way to produce that foamy texture in your cocktail is adding an egg white or a few drops of this cocktail froth liquid to your shaker with the other ingredients.
As mentioned above, in testing this recipe I found it really helps to remove the cocktail strainer when pouring your martini, to preserve all that delicious foam. Also make sure to really give your cocktail shaker a strong shake!
🍸 Make it a Mocktail
Feel free to skip the vodka and coffee liqueur, and make a sweetened, chilled, frothy coffee mocktail instead.
You can use infused simply syrup flavors to add a little something extra to your drink as well.
One might argue that at this point it's just sweetened espresso, but when served out of a chilled martini glass it really is a treat!
⭐️ La Mosca (The Fly)
If you've ever ordered this drink at a bar, you've likely seen the classic coffee bean topping, usually delicately laid three at a time.
Traditionally called 'La Mosca' (the fly), this presentation is traditional for Sambuca in Italy.
lf you're feeling fancy, you can add the beans with bar tweezers or chopsticks to gently place in a triangle formation. Otherwise, your hands will work just fine!
If you're not into the traditional whole bean topping, feel free to keep it plain & simple or use a light dusting of cocoa powder.
If you're looking to mix it up and create an original spin on this cocktail, here are some fun ideas:
- Moroccan Coffee - Add some warming spices to your espresso before brewing for a spiced twist. You can learn all about the classic spices used in this recipe for Moroccan Coffee.
- Flavored Vodka - There are hundreds (if not thousands) of flavors of vodka out there, and certain flavors are perfect for infusing into this cocktail. Some of my favorite flavors are coffee (duh), hazelnut, caramel, and whipped cream.
- Syrups - Feel free to get creative with the infusions in your simple syrup as well, as this can add a great deal of flavor to the end result. You can make your own or check out the pre-made ones at the store or online.
🍴 Special Tools
There are a few special tools that you will need to make an espresso martini:
- Espresso Machine: You will need an espresso machine to get that signature frothy, freshly brewed espresso that makes this drink so special. You can also use a French Press or Moka Pot, and create the froth using liquid froth drops or an egg white.
- Cocktail Shaker: A cocktail shaker will make shaking this drink up easy and mess free. That said, you can also get away with using a large mason jar with a lid.
- Martini Glass: It's traditional to serve this drink in a chilled martini or coupe glass. That said, it tastes just as good in any chilled glass, so feel free to use what you've got!
🍽 Related Recipes
Here are a few other classic cocktails to check out:
Please remember to always drink responsibly.