Since its creation in the 1980s, the espresso martini has become an extremely popular cocktail for coffee lovers. Whether you're a seasoned mixologist or simply a coffee enthusiast looking to elevate your caffeine fix, the espresso martini offers a perfect balance of rich espresso, smooth vodka, and decadent coffee liqueur. In this guide, we’ll celebrate the espresso martini, discuss its history, and share an espresso martini recipe so you can enjoy one at home.
What is an Espresso Martini?
An espresso martini is a delicious cocktail that combines the rich flavors of espresso coffee with alcohol and a touch of sweetness. Although it’s not a traditional martini as it doesn’t contain gin or vermouth, it’s prepared in a similar way and served in a martini glass. Espresso martinis are typically made with vodka, coffee liqueur (like Kahlúa), freshly brewed espresso, and sometimes a simple syrup for extra sweetness. The ingredients are shaken with ice in a cocktail shaker and then strained into a chilled martini glass, often garnished with coffee beans or chocolate shavings.
The Origins of the Espresso Martini
The origins of the espresso martini are somewhat shrouded in mystery, but it's widely believed to have been invented in the 1980s. The most popular story attributes its creation to a British bartender named Dick Bradsell, who is said to have concocted the drink in the late 1980s at the Soho Brasserie in London.
Legend has it that a patron requested Bradsell create a drink that would wake them up and, well, get them drunk. Bradsell obliged, and the rest is history. The drink quickly gained popularity, especially in the vibrant nightlife scene of London, and later spread to cocktail bars around the world.
Why are Espresso Martinis So Delicious?
Combining coffee and alcohol isn’t a revolutionary concept. Irish coffee, White Russians, and Mexican coffee all blend coffee and alcohol together to create a rich, flavorful beverage. Alcoholic coffee drinks are an indulgent and delicious beverage you can enjoy after dinner or on particularly chilly afternoons when you need a pick-me-up.
Espresso martinis take that concept and elevate it, making them completely valid drinks to order at a cocktail bar or serve at a dinner party. Just like traditional martinis, they balance the bitterness of one ingredient with the sweetness of another. Where traditional martinis use sweet vermouth or angostura bitters to provide the strong flavor, espresso martinis rely on strong espresso to provide that powerful flavor. What results is a delicious and balanced alcoholic coffee beverage that’s favored by coffee drinkers around the world.
What You'll Need to Make an Espresso Martini
To make an espresso martini, you'll need the following equipment and ingredients.
You’ll need the following equipment to make an espresso martini.
- Cocktail shaker: The ultimate martini tool necessary to mix the ingredients thoroughly and chill the drink.
- Espresso machine: To make the espresso. Don’t have an espresso machine at home? You can also use cold brew concentrate or extra-strength drip coffee if available.
- Jigger or measuring tool: For accurately measuring the ingredients.
- Martini glass: To serve the drink in a stylish and elegant manner.
- Cocktail strainer or fine mesh sieve: To strain out any ice chips or small particles from the drink before serving.
Feel free to adjust the ingredient proportions according to your taste preferences, whether you prefer it stronger, sweeter, or with a different balance of flavors. Experimentation is part of the fun when it comes to cocktails.
- Vodka: The alcoholic base for the cocktail.
- Coffee liqueur: Such as Kahlúa, Baileys, or Tia Maria, which adds rich coffee flavor and sweetness to the drink.
- Freshly brewed espresso: For the strong coffee flavor and caffeine kick. You can use a home espresso machine or a stovetop espresso maker to brew espresso. Be sure to use high-quality coffee beans for ultimate flavor.
- Ice cubes: To chill the cocktail during mixing.
- Simple syrup (optional): To add more sweetness to the cocktail if desired. This is optional and depends on your taste preferences.
- Garnish: Optional garnishes include coffee beans or chocolate shavings for added aroma and visual appeal.
How to Make an Espresso Martini at Home
You don’t need to visit a cocktail bar to enjoy this delicious beverage. You can easily make an espresso martini at home by following these simple steps.
1. Brew your espresso
Brew a shot of espresso and let it cool to room temperature or chill it in the fridge for a few minutes. Cooling your espresso is particularly important, as you don’t want the hot coffee to melt the ice and water down your martini.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add the vodka, coffee liqueur, and freshly brewed espresso to the cocktail shaker. Optionally, add a splash of simple syrup. Most tend to think the coffee liqueur is sufficiently sweet without adding simple syrup, but you might prefer a sweeter drink.
3. Shake, shake, shake
Close the shaker tightly and shake vigorously for about 10-15 seconds. This helps to chill and mix the ingredients thoroughly so you end up with a balanced martini.
4. Pour and serve
Strain the liquid into a chilled martini glass using a cocktail strainer or fine mesh sieve to remove any ice chips. Optionally, garnish the drink with a few coffee beans or chocolate shavings for extra flair and flavor.
The key to a delicious espresso martini is high-quality ingredients, including the coffee beans you choose for your espresso. If you’re looking for the right blend to feature in your own espresso martini, we’ve got you covered with a wide selection of blends and single-origin coffees that are smooth, delicious, and perfectly balanced. Grab a few bags and keep them on hand for your espresso martinis, lattes, or affogatos made at home.
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