What is an Espresso Martini

What Is In an Espresso Martini? (+10 Questions Answered)

What Ingredients are in an Espresso Martini?

What is an Espresso Martini

An espresso martini is a chilled caffeinated cocktail made with vodka, espresso, and a coffee liqueur like Kalua with a few coffee beans floating on top. 

It is typically served in martini glasses or sometimes in a coupe glass. Instead of being served with ice cubes in the glass, which will water it down, it is chilled in your cocktail shaker and then poured into a pre-chilled cocktail glass to keep it cold. 

Though an espresso martini is quite different from a traditional martini made with gin and vermouth, espresso martinis make for the perfect after-dinner drink, an excellent choice in cocktail recipes for any coffee lover, or if you just need a pick-me-up while out on the town. 

History of the Espresso Martini

Though there have been many claims to the origin of the infamous espresso martini, it is most popularly attributed to an innovative British bartender named Dick Bradsell. 

The story goes that a female patron asked him for a cocktail that would “wake me up, then f*ck me up” while working at Fred’s Club in London in the late 1980s. 

Bradsell’s influence on the cocktail came from the coffee machine at the Soho Brasseries being right next to his bar and vodka being a popular spirit of the time. He combined the two with a couple of other ingredients to sweeten it up, and the espresso martini was born. 

Variations of the Espresso Martini

Several variations of the espresso martini have occurred throughout the years, each offering a change to the flavor. 

Some have started to make it with cold brew concentrate instead of fresh espresso coffee to get around having an espresso maker. Others add simple syrup or crème de cacao instead of coffee liquor and different ratios of traditional ingredients to make several delicious flavors.

Answers to Your Most Popular Questions


How to make an espresso martini frothy?

What is an Espresso Martini

An espresso machine will naturally give you the frothy top on an espresso martini. However, if you use a French Press or instant coffee to make it, you can simply add one raw egg white to your cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for several minutes to create a beautiful foam. 

How many calories are in an espresso martini?

Depending on the recipe, an espresso martini can have anywhere from around 100-350 calories. Unless you make a low-calorie or low-sugar espresso martini recipe, expect the cocktail to be around 250-350 calories. 

What do the three beans in an espresso martini mean?

What do the three beans in an espresso martini mean

The three coffee beans that garnish an espresso martini represent health, wealth, and happiness. The tradition comes from Italy, where they traditionally serve Sambuca with three coffee beans on top.

What does an espresso martini taste like?

An espresso martini tastes like a boozy, sweet, and creamy coffee. The most prominent flavor is the coffee, so you shouldn’t skimp on using high-quality espresso when making one, if possible.  

How to make espresso martinis with Baileys?

If you want to create an espresso martini with Baileys Irish Cream, simply substitute the coffee liqueur in your recipe with the Baileys. It will still have a ton of coffee flavor, especially when you use freshly brewed espresso. You can also just add Baileys as an additional ingredient instead of making the swap.  

How to make espresso martini without espresso?

If you don’t have an espresso maker, you can make an espresso martini with a standard coffee machine and your standard morning coffee or use cold brew concentrate or instant coffee. 

When is National Espresso Martini Day?

March 15th is National Espresso Martini Day, so celebrate accordingly! Grab your cocktail shaker, some coffee beans, coffee liqueur, and vodka, add ice, and shake to pour up an espresso martini to cheers with your friends on National Espresso Martini Day.

How to make espresso martini without espresso

Why do bartenders hate espresso martinis?

The espresso martini has become wildly popular in the last few years. However, bartenders hate espresso martinis because of how time-consuming they are to make when you are working a busy bar. 

If you see the line for drinks is long at the bar, consider ordering something else or leaving a hefty tip if you choose to order one. 

How much caffeine is in an espresso martini?

Depending on the recipe and the type of coffee used, you can expect around 60mg of caffeine in an espresso martini. 

Where did the espresso martini come from?

The espresso martini came from a bartender in London in the late 1980s. 

Answers to Your Most Popular Questions

Our Top 4 Favorite Espresso Martini Recipes

Espresso Martini

by Preppy Kitchen

Espresso Martini

The espresso martini recipe from Preppy Kitchen combines vodka, coffee liqueur, and espresso, plus some simple syrup for extra sweetness. 

The mixture gets shaken vigorously in a cocktail shaker with ice to chill it and create a beautiful, creamy froth on top. You’ll then strain it into your cocktail glass and top it with three coffee beans. 

Smooth Chilled Espresso Martini Recipe

by Joyful Healthy Eats

Smooth Chilled Espresso Martini

Joyful Healthy Eats takes their Smooth Chilled Espresso Martini recipe to the next level with the addition of Irish Cream and some simple syrup to make the flavor profile similar to a creamy, sweet iced latte. 

If you are looking for a cocktail still packed with coffee but super smooth, this is the one to try!

Espresso Martini Recipe

by Simply Recipes

Espresso Martini

This espresso martini recipe from Simply Recipes adds a chocolate element using crème de cacao as both a complement to the espresso coffee and a sweetener. Chocolate and coffee are a match made in heaven, so this recipe is excellent.

Espresso Martini

by Recipe Tin Eats

Espresso Martini

This espresso martini from Recipe Tin Eats is similar in ingredients to the one from Preppy Kitchen, except it uses different ratios and leaves out the simple syrup, which creates a bolder coffee flavor. 

Nagi, the creator of Recipe Tin Eats, also provides a few great tips to improve your bartending skills. 

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Though there might seem like a lot of factors that go into an espresso martini, they are simple once you understand the basics. Feel free to mix them up with whatever idea comes to mind, but don’t forget to use a quality vodka like Absolut vodka or Grey Goose vodka and a high-end coffee to get the best flavors. 

Also, between the caffeine and the alcohol content, espresso martinis pack a punch, so ensure you drink responsibly! Cheers!

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