How to Make an Espresso Martini

The classic 90’s cocktail, the espresso martini is making a comeback in an era of craft coffee. Mostly because it’s a decadent alternative to a Vodka Red Bull. A unique blend of vodka, espresso, and coffee liqueur, the espresso martini is a boozy way to wake up your next party.

A smooth, cold cocktail with complex, rich flavors makes it an ideal drink for parties and dinners. The best part? It’s effortless to make. Impress your friends with your bartending prowess.

No one needs to know how easy it is to make an espresso martini.

The Legend of the First Espresso Martini

As the lore goes, a supermodel walked into Dick Bradsell’s London bar in 1983. She approached Dick and asked for a drink that would wake her up and mess her up. It was at this moment that Dick, a prominent bartender, decided to mix freshly brewed espresso, vodka, sugar syrup, Tia Maria, and Kahlua and named it the Vodka Espresso.

Later in the nineties, he reinvented it as the Espresso Martini since martinis were high fashion at the time. Since creating it, Dick made another variation called the Pharmaceutical Stimulant, where he served it on the rocks, although this variation is not as popular as the espresso martini.

Today there are many variations on this classic cocktail that can be found on the menu of trendy restaurants and bars around the world. It’s so popular that Kahlua sells their own version of it. And it was in Italy that the three coffee bean garnish was first introduced to symbolize health, wealth, and happiness.

When is the Best Time to Enjoy an Espresso Martini?

An espresso martini is the perfect transitional drink. You might enjoy it after work, before an event, or after a dinner party. A more sophisticated alternative to coffee, the espresso martini will keep the party going. Pair it with a petit four chocolate dessert to impress your guests.

Espresso martinis are also great cocktails during the holiday season. It’s dark vibrant color sets the mood for festive nights and after-party conversation—a sophisticated cocktail to elevate the holidays.


The Ultimate Espresso Martini

Prep and Cooling Time: 5-10 min
Difficulty Level: Easy
Amount of Servings: 1

Tools Needed:


  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Coffee Liqueur (Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy or Kahlua)
  • 1 oz Brewed and Chilled Espresso
  • 1/2 oz White Creme de Cacao (optional for extra flavor)
  • 3 Coffee Beans for Garnish
  • 1 cup Ice Cubes

Instructions on How to Make an Espresso Martini:

  1. Just beforehand, brew the espresso coffee and allow it to cool. This will minimize dilution and make the martini colder.
  2. Chill your martini glasses in the freezer for at least five minutes. Chilled drinks are best served in cold glassware.
  3. Add the ice cubes into your cocktail shaker.
  4. Add all of the ingredients except the coffee beans.
  5. Cover and shake to mix the ingredients. When shaking, do not rock the shaker to bed. Wake the drink by shaking vigorously for about a minute. Or shake until the outside of the shaker feels icy for optimal frothy foam.
  6. Strain the drink into the chilled martini glass quickly and then allow the foam to land on top of the drink.
  7. Garnish by placing three coffee beans in petal formation in the center of the foam.

Serve and enjoy immediately.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

341.5 calories; protein 0.1g; carbohydrates 31.3g 10% DV; fat 0.2g; cholesterol 0 mg; sodium 8.5mg.

Mixing Tips for the Ultimate Espresso Martini

A few mixing tips to ensure a perfectly made drink:

Use Quality Ingredients

A martini is only as good as its ingredients, so take care to only use high-quality liquors and freshly brewed espresso. According to Life and Thyme, there are now over fifty high-quality craft coffee liqueurs. This is in response to the popularity of espresso martinis and specialty coffees.

Create the Perfect Foam

You’ll need top-quality ingredients to make a creamy foam, a signature tell to a well-made espresso martini. To get the foam extra frothy, shake vigorously for at least a minute and a half. If you want a creamier foam, add a dash of heavy cream.

Make the Espresso Fresh

The best espresso to use is a full-bodied, 100% Arabica, medium-dark espresso. And you do not want to use day-old espresso. While you do want to cool before mixing, the espresso should be brewed as fresh as possible, or it will become too bitter. 

Don’t have an espresso machine? Make it work by hitting your local coffee house after work or before your party.

Don’t Skimp on Presentation

Strain the drink briskly so that you don’t muddle or lose foam. And carefully place the coffee beans in the center of the foam for that extra touch. For friends that enjoy sugar in their coffee, rim your martini glasses in sugar before pouring. This will give it a frosted look that’s great for the holidays.

Modern Variations on How to Make an Espresso Martini

While you can’t go wrong with the classic blend, it’s fun to experiment with other variations. Some of the more popular modern varieties include:

  • Cuppa Joe: Made with hazelnut liqueur instead of coffee liqueur.
  • Espresso Daiquiri: Substitute light white rum instead of vodka.
  • Flat White: Use Irish cream liqueur instead of coffee liqueur.
  • Irish Espresso’tini: Same as the Flat White, just use vanilla vodka instead of regular.
  • Lotus Espresso: Add a shot of maple syrup.
  • Jalisco Espresso: Substitute tequila for vodka.
  • Mocha Martini: Add a dark chocolate liqueur.
  • Rum Raisin Espresso Martini: Use aged rum and Pedro Ximenez sherry instead of vodka.
  • Turkish Coffee Martini: Add cardamom for a unique flavor.
  • Salted Caramel: Add salted caramel syrup for a sweeter drink.
  • Tiramisu Martini: Substitute espresso tequila and Baileys Irish Cream instead of vodka.

Didn’t see your favorite liquors listed? Experiment with ratios and flavors to create your own variation of the espresso martini and wow your friends.