The Espresso Martini’s a delicious combination of morning and afternoon. Technically, it’s not a martini since it doesn’t contain either gin or vermouth. But it’s respectable enough to keep its name. The Espresso Martini calls for vodka, espresso, coffee liqueur, and crème de cacao. If you don’t have crème de cacao, that’s okay, everybody makes mistakes. Joking! Check out the recipe notes.
The Story Behind the Espresso Martini
A man named Dick Bradsell created the Espresso Martini in the 1980s. One day, a woman walked up to his London bar asking for a drink that would “wake me up, and then f**ck me up.” Something is endearing about her honesty. Anyways, Mr. Bradsell recalled the idea came to him because his drink station at the Soho Brasseries was right next to the coffee machine. Vodka was all the rage then (it still is), so he decided to combined the two. It turns out the combination was a brilliant idea!
Overview of the Espresso Martini
The Espresso Martini can be made in several different ways. The amount of vodka and espresso usually stays the same, but you can adjust the coffee liqueur/crème de cacao/simple syrup ratio to your liking. In truth, you can do whatever you want; it’s your cocktail. Those are just the most common ways the recipe’s customized.
I understand Jäger Bombs and Vodka/Red Bull combination(s) are a quick way to get an intoxicating caffeine fix. But the Espresso Martini can accomplish the same thing, without appearing so…pedestrian. Btw, don’t combine those two; it never ends well.
Vodka’s the base spirit. It’s a perfect choice because vodka lacks any distinct aroma or taste. So it won’t interfere with the complexion of the cocktail (I don’t mean color), allowing the espresso and liqueur(s) to dominate your palate. The idea’s to be drinking a cocktail that’s somewhere in between an Americano (the espresso, not the cocktail) and a Black Russian. Choose any quality vodka you prefer. I recommend either Tito’s Handmade, Ketel One, or Stoli. You can add an interesting touch by trying a vanilla-infused vodka, it’s quite delicious!
The espresso makes the Espresso Martini what it is, so always use freshly made espresso. To make espresso, the obvious choice is an espresso machine. They’re easy to use (depending) and make espresso that’s reproducible. You don’t have to break the bank to own one either. A company called Sowtech makes a really nice (quality) espresso machine that’s really affordable. It’ll make your life a bit easier if you develop an addiction to espresso…or the cocktail.
Now if you’re like most people, you probably don’t have a professional espresso machine laying around. A Keurig doesn’t count. If that’s the case, don’t worry! There’s more than one way to make the coffee you need.
Use a coffee grinder, stovetop kettle, and a french press instead. It takes a bit longer to make, but if you don’t make espresso very often it’ll do the trick. Honestly, this method isn’t “true” espresso, but you can closely mimic the real thing if it’s done right. There’s a really nice article here showing how it’s done.
Coffee Liqueur & Crème
There are several varieties of coffee liqueur you can use, the most common’s Kahlúa. St. George Nola and Leopold Bros are both excellent coffee liqueurs as well. You can even make your own coffee liqueur at home! It’s an interesting way to spice up the recipe.
Our recipe calls for crème de cacao for good reason. In addition to the delicious chocolate flavor, crème liqueur adds a really pleasant feel to the Espresso Martini. Although you don’t have to add crème de cacao, it’s something I really recommend! If it’s not available you can substitute, see the notes in the recipe.
Dekuyper makes a nice crème called Crème de Cacao Dark Liqueur that’s decent and inexpensive. A quality brand you should really try is Vedrenne Creme De Cacao Chocolate Sweet. It’s a French liqueur that’s a bit more expensive than Dekuyper. But the price is totally worth it; you can tell the difference in its smoothness. Finally, if you’re looking for the very best, look no further than the vanilla-laden Tempus Fugit Creme De Cacao. Tempus Fugit is the most expensive variety I’ve listed, but its price reflects its quality. It’s a must-try!
How to Make an Espresso Martini Cocktail
The video shows a recipe that’s a little different than what I’ve put together. Instead of 2 parts vodka, 1 part coffee liqueur, and 1 part espresso, I’ve reduced the vodka and coffee liqueur to compensate for the addition of crème de cacao. There’s also no need to add simple syrup if you’re using crème since it adds its own sweetness. This common 2:1:1 recipe is a good way to go if you don’t have crème on hand. If you don’t have simple syrup either, no sweat! Just dissolve a sugar cube in the hot espresso before mixing it into the cocktail.
A perfect Espresso Martini cocktail recipe! Learn how to make a classic Espresso Martini with an amazing kick. Try adding a bit of cream to the mix to create a very smooth cocktail!
- 1 1/2 fl oz Vodka
- 1 fl oz Espresso
- 3/4 fl oz Coffee Liqueur
- 3/4 fl oz Crème de Cacao
- 1 Tbsp Irish or Heavy Cream (Optional)
- 3 Espresso Beans
- Cubed Ice
If you don’t have crème de cacao substitute using a 2:1:1 ratio of vodka, espresso, coffee liqueur, and 1 tbsp of simple syrup.
Try adding a tbsp of either Irish or heavy cream. It adds great feel and smoothness to the cocktail. If you don’t have cream, substitute with milk. This is totally optionally but really worth it!
*Nutrition information is approximate and varies depending upon ingredients used.
- Category: Cocktail
- Serving Size: 1-3
- Calories: 325
Keywords: Espresso Martini, Vodka, Coffee Liqueur, Crème de Cacao
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