Espresso martini: the best cocktail for coffee lovers

The espresso martini is the perfect after dinner drink. Rich coffee and sweet Kalhúa all rounded off with a punch of vodka – a brilliant pick me up

espresso martini recipe
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The espresso martini is a great choice if you are looking for an after dinner drink. Unlike your Irish coffees and coffee with Tia Maria, this is served cold, so it is refreshing, tasty and has just enough caffeine if you are starting to lag after a big meal. 

Most martinis contain vermouth and gin, but the only classic martini ingredient in this is vodka. It is however always served in a martini glass and combines both espresso and coffee liqueur for that coffee kick. Most recipes specify use of Kahlúa but feel free to use any coffee liqueur you like.

Read on to learn how to make an espresso martini, then check out our other cocktail recipes for more drinks to try at home.

How to make an espresso martini

Lavazza have shared their espresso martini recipe with us which uses Lavazza Tierra espresso. This recipe is best made with fresh espresso – allow it to cool a little before you mix your cocktail. See our selection of the best coffee machines to find a coffee maker for your espresso.

Ingredients:

  • 50ml vodka
  • 30ml coffee liqueur
  • 35ml espresso (such as Lavazza Tierra)
  • 5ml sugar syrup (2:1 Demerara sugar – see recipe below)

Method:

1. Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice.

2. Shake well for up to a minute until everything is well mixed and the mixture is cool.

3. Double strain into a chilled martini glass.

4. Garnish with three espresso beans and a dusting of cocoa powder if you like.

How to make your own sugar syrup

If you don't have sugar syrup, it is really easy to make your own. Simply dissolve 200g of sugar in 100ml of water, in a pan over a low heat. You can use white caster sugar for most sugar syrups, but we like using richer Demerara to complement this recipe. Once the sugar has dissolved allow to cool a little, before bottling. This can be stored in the fridge and used in a number of your favourite cocktails.

What coffee should you use in an espresso martini?

The story goes that the recipe came about when a customer asked cocktail king Dick Bradsell, of Fred's Club in London, for a drink that would 'Wake me up, and then f*** me up'. With the coffee machine at the end of his bar, and the penchant for vodka at the time, he mixed some coffee with the popular spirit, a coffee liqueur and a dash of sugar syrup for sweetness. So a really good espresso martini should be make with freshly made espresso. 

That said, there are some really good instant espresso powders now which are perfect for those who don't have a coffee machine, or don't want the faff (or risk) of making hot coffee after a few glasses of wine... You need 35ml of espresso which is just a bit bigger than the 30ml ristretto serving (or short shot) that Italians and real coffee lovers will be familiar with. Some pod coffee machines will have this as a serving option.

Fancy an espresso martini with a twist?

Slingsby Marmalade Espresso Martini

(Image credit: Slingsby)

Try this variant on the classic espresso martini. It uses a Marmalade gin to add a bitter sweet tang to this pick-me-up cocktail. Simply add the following ingredients to a shaker, shake well with ice then remove the ice and shake once more. Strain into a martini or coupe glass and garnish with coffee beans.

  • 37.5ml Slingsby Marmalade Gin
  • 12.5ml coffee liqueur (we use Mr Black but would recommend Kahlua or Tia Maria as well)
  • 25ml espresso or cold brew (we use Artemis Cold Brew)
  • 10ml sugar syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

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