The espresso martini is a classic cocktail that’s been around since the mid-1980s and is still popular today.
It was invented by legendary London bartender Dick Bradsell, who named it the “Vodka Espresso.”
Quest for the Best Espresso Martini
The basic espresso martini recipe is made with vodka, espresso, and a coffee liqueur, mixed with ice, and strained into a martini glass. It is a smooth and creamy drink with a kick of caffeine and a hint of sweetness.
But just as James Bond likes his martini shaken and not stirred, you might like espresso martini stronger, with more caffeine, or sweetened with chocolate. So, the perfect recipe is different for everyone. No worries, though, as we’ve got you covered with five of the best ways to make espresso martinis and a few little surprises – like homemade Kahlua!
Our Picks for the 5 Best Espresso Martini Recipes
- Traditional, but with bitters
- Elevated with espresso-infused vodka
- No espresso machine required
- A chocolatey twist
- No vodka
Just a touch of bitter
The first recipe is pretty straightforward but with a different flavor profile, thanks to a dash of angostura bitters.
Espresso Martini – with bitters
- 2 ounces espresso (freshly brewed)
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce Kahlua
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 2 dashes angostura bitters
- 1/8 cup heavy cream (optional)
- 1 teaspoon confectioners sugar (optional)
- Combine the espresso, vodka, Kahlua, simple syrup, and angostura bitters in a cocktail shaker
- Add ice, and shake for 30 seconds or so
- Pour the mixture into a martini glass (or 2!)
- Combine the heavy cream and sugar in a cup and use a milk frother to add some thickness (but not as thick as whipped cream)
- Dollop the thickened cream on top and add a few espresso beans for the perfect presentation
- To make simple syrup, boil equal parts of sugar and water together for a few minutes
- If you’re using homemade Kahlua, you might omit the simple syrup as it tends to be sweeter than typical Kahlua
3 Ways to Make Espresso
A double shot with espresso-infused vodka and crema
You can buy a bottle of espresso-infused vodka. But if you’ve got an extra 24 hours before cocktail time, you can make your own. We’ve got a super-simple recipe at the bottom of this post.
Espresso Martini – with espresso-infused vodka and crema
- 1.5 ounces espresso-infused vodka
- 1 ounce freshly brewed espresso
- 1 ounce Kahlua
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes – if you don't have a cocktail shaker, you can use a mason jar or other jar with a tight lid
- Shake well 20 to 30 seconds
- Pour into a martini glass and add an extra dash of simple syrup if you like a sweeter drink
- To create a thick crema on top, you can use a cold brew coffee concentrate, an aerolatte device, or a milk frother to gentle foam the top layer of the beverage before pouring into the glass.
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Espresso Martini with no brewing required
Instead of pulling shots of hot espresso, you can use espresso powder or premade cold brew for this recipe.
Espresso Martini – with instant espresso powder
- 1 ounce vodka
- 1 ounce Kahlua
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (or 1 ounce of premade cold brew)
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
- Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes
- Add all four ingredients (use more simple syrup if you like a sweeter cocktail)
- Shake for 15-30 seconds
- Place a strainer over a chilled martini glass and pour the liquid through the strainer
- Garnish with a few coffee beans
Adding chocolatey goodness
The 3 c’s – coffee, chocolate, and cream make this recipe a real winner. If you drink mochas, you’ll love this one.
Espresso Martini – with chocolate and whipped cream
- 2 shots freshly brewed espresso
- 1 ounce chocolate liqueur
- 2 teaspoons sugar or simple syrup (divided)
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1/8 cup heavy cream
- Make the whipped cream first by combining 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the heavy cream
- Use a handheld mixer, whisk, or milk frother to whip the cream, and set aside.
- Combine the espresso, vodka, chocolate liqueur, and sugar or simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice
- Shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds
- Divide the mixture between 2 martini glasses (pouring through a strainer to keep the ice out of the glass)
- Add a dollop of your homemade whipped cream and some chocolate shavings to garnish
No vodka? No problem!
Of the five best espresso martini recipes, this is the most unusual. It replaces vodka with dark rum and amaretto liqueur for an entire different taste sensation!
Espresso Martini – no vodka
- 2 ounces freshly brewed espresso
- 1 ounce dark rum
- 1/2 ounce Kahlua (or other coffee liqueur)
- 1/4 ounce amaretto liqueur
- 1/2 ounce heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar or simple syrup (optional)
- Brew your double shot of fresh espresso (or other strongly brewed coffee) and add to a shaker
- Fill the shake halfway up with ice cubes
- Add the dark rum, Kahlua, and amaretto to the shaker
- Shake well – 20 to 30 seconds
- Strain the mixture into a martini glass
- Spoon the heavy cream on top and swirl into the beverage
- For a slightly sweeter drink, add simple syrup or sugar on top – or use a sugar-rimmed glass
Up Your Cocktail Game
Not only do we have five of the best recipes for espresso martinis, but you can elevate your mixology skills with homemade espresso-infused vodka and homemade Kahlua.
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon Hershey's chocolate syrup
- 1/4 cup instant coffee or espresso powder
- 2 cups vodka
- Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil
- Then, add vanilla, Hershey's syrup, and coffee granules
- Simmer on low for a few minutes
- Let the mixture cool
- Add the vodka, stir, and pour into a serving container (a mason jar is ideal)
- 1 large mason jar or similar container with a lid
- high-proof vodka (125 to 190 proof)
- freshly brewed espresso
- Fill your mason jar about 3/4 of the way up with vodka
- Add two to four ounces of freshly brewed espresso, depending on how strong you prefer
- Cover the jar and store in a dark, cool location for 24 hours or more to give the espresso time to infuse the vodka
- If any espresso grounds remain, strain the liquid
- Optional: you can further enhance the flavor by adding cocoa powder or flavored syrups like vanilla for added complexity
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two months (but it won't last hat long!)
Elevating the Espresso Martini
To switch things up with your espresso martinis, you can choose different types of alcohols. For example, use whiskey or rum instead of vodka, as we provided in one of our best espresso martini recipes. For extra fun, try experimenting with different liqueurs such as Baileys Irish Cream or Amaretto Disaronno, which both pair nicely with espresso flavors. Just remember to adjust your measurements accordingly since these liqueurs are much stronger than vodka.
Another way to change the flavor profile is to add different mixers such as cream or almond milk. To add some extra sweetness, you could also use flavored syrups like hazelnut or cinnamon instead of simple syrup or Kahlua. They’ll create interesting flavor combinations, but won’t be for everyone.
Lastly, don’t forget that finishing touches like a sprinkle of cocoa powder, coffee beans, chocolate curls, cinnamon sticks, or dark chocolate swirls. Espresso martinis will let your inner barista, mixologist, and designer shine!