The espresso martini is one of those rare cocktails that seem to fit into any occasion, at any time of the day.
First conceived in a London bar called Fred’s Club by bartender Dick Bradsell — where it was said that a certain top model requested him to make a drink that would “wake me up and f**k me up at the same time” — the cocktail was an ingenious marriage of vodka, espresso, and coffee liqueur.
Today, the espresso martini can be had as a remedy for rough mornings or as a little pick-me-up post-dinner. Like all cocktails, the secret behind a great espresso martini lies in the quality of ingredients and its proportions.
If you have an espresso machine at home, feel free to pull a shot of your favourite beans and stick them into the fridge for a quick chill to prevent the hot liquid from melting the ice and diluting the drink. If you have neither the time nor equipment for an espresso shot, cold brew concentrates are easy alternatives too.
Your espresso shot is accompanied by a coffee liqueur, which — for the “health conscious” — also doubles up as sweetener for this cocktail. Of course, the type of vodka here can make all the difference between a smooth and decadent martini, or one that recalls the wretched nights you had as a teen, so do yourself a favour here and opt for a better quality spirit.
Espresso martinis are incredibly easy and satisfying to recreate at home. Here, the best recipe for this timeless classic, and everything you’ll need for it.
1.5 shots of vodka
2/3 shot of coffee liqueur
1 shot of espresso/cold brew concentrate
Optional garnish: coffee beans
Add vodka, coffee liqueur, and espresso (or cold brew concentrate) to a shaker filled with ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top with a couple of coffee beans.
(Hero and featured image credits: Jason Bailey Studio)
Made with premium non-GMO corn in Quebec, and then carefully distilled for over 20 hours for maximum purity without stripping down its flavour, Cirka’s vodka boasts a velvety texture that gently coats the palate, and goes down incredibly smoothly. Expect this award-winning spirit to bring delicate notes of caramel on the palette, as well as a hint of licorice that lingers — the perfect accompaniments to an espresso martini.
Because it was made with water enriched by Pacific minerals from the San Francisco Bay Area, this American vodka has a subtle salinity and minerality, which when added to an espresso martini reduces any excessive bitterness and enhances the sweetness and flavour of the cocktail.
Possibly one if the most sought-after labels in the market after Absolut, Grey Goose is an ultra-premium vodka that’s made using alpine spring water and French winter wheat. The spirit is an easy choice for those who want to make a decent martini without investing too much, and comes with a hint of burnt charcoal, a dash of sweetness, and a touch of spice that complements the smoky bitterness of coffee.
This recipe uses coffee liqueur as a sweetener, and while Kahlua might be a popular choice here, those who prefer theirs less sweet can substitute it for Tia Maria instead. Made in Jamaica using Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans, this liqueur is less syrupy and smoother than Kahlua, and imparts fragrant coffee and vanilla notes to your espresso martini.
Those who can’t thrive on variety but want quality espresso every single time will find joy in PPP’s Supernova Discovery Box. Comprising 50 Nespresso-compatible pods, each box set will see coffee that herald from regions like Guatemala, Ethiopia, and India. There’s even a decaf option if you don’t want your boozy treat to keep you up all night.
Made with 100-percent Arabica beans from Brazil, Ethiopia, and Colombia, this concentrate is not only a dream for lazy cold brew addicts, but also those who want easy access to espresso shots. This one comes laden with rich chocolatey, nutty, and caramel notes.