If you need a caffeine kick, then the espresso martini is for you. The classy cocktail is undoubtedly an energy booster, and it’s so luscious that some people describe it as a boozy dessert.
The espresso martini might be an 80s classic, but the 80s are hot right now, so it’s the perfect time to enjoy the aromatic drink. If you like coffee, vodka or both, you’re in for a treat — here’s all you need to know about the espresso martini, including a reliable recipe to make your own.
History of the Espresso Martini Cocktail
Legend says a woman walked into a bar and asked for something to wake her up and then f*ck her up (that’s how the story goes!). The bar was the Brasserie Soho in London, and the Bartender was Dick Bradsell. The year: 1983.
Bradsell combined vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso and sweetened it a little just to balance it all out. The espresso martini was born. This was the era when vodka was the go-to spirit for cocktails.
The cocktail was initially called the vodka espresso, but it changed its name in the 1990s when a range of so-called martinis flavored with everything, from apples to chocolate, was in vogue.
There’s no espresso martini without vodka. And being the noble spirit it is, vodka adds nothing to the drink but its alcoholic strength. Vodka lets other flavors shine through without stealing the spotlight.
Then you have the coffee liqueur, and there are a few brands in the market for that. Coffee liqueur is intensely flavorful, sweet and mildly alcoholic. This is both our sweetener and flavoring ingredient. Although some folks add simple syrup to their espresso martini, we believe the coffee liqueur is more than enough to sweeten this beauty — this is a grown-up drink, after all.
Finally, there’s the espresso, and you want to use the good stuff, so brew an actual espresso. You want to cool it down to room temperature before mixing it, though, or it will dramatically dilute the cocktail.
Variations and Substitutions
Adding a splash of cream to an espresso martini. This is the most straightforward of variations and gives the cocktail a smoother feel.
If you replace the coffee liqueur with Irish cream, you get a Flat White cocktail, and it’s awesome. The espresso-tini is another popular variation that calls for vanilla vodka. It certainly makes the already tasty cocktail even tastier.
Substitute vodka for rum or whiskey for fun variations with a bit more personality. And spicing up the drink with a pinch of cinnamon or allspice will make it compatible with the holiday season. How cool is that?
Espresso Martini Recipe
- Espresso machine
- Cocktail shaker
- Martini glass
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce coffee liqueur
- 1 ounce espresso
- Roasted coffee beans for garnish
- Brew the espresso either in an espresso machine or stovetop espresso pot. Cool it down to room temperature in an ice bath. Reserve.
- Fill the martini glass with ice water.
- In the shaker filled with ice, add the vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso.
- Shake for 10-15 seconds until chilled.
- Throw out the ice water and strain the cocktail into the martini glass.
- Garnish with roasted coffee beans.