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How to make an espresso martini

How to make a great espresso martini

An espresso martini is a coffee-flavored cocktail that's popular in bars around the world. It isn't a true martini as it doesn't contain gin or vermouth, but it uses the term martini in its name and is served in a martini glass. 

You might have tried espresso martinis at a cocktail bar and are now wondering how to make them at home. Although there are several steps involved, it's actually fairly simple to make an espresso martini once you know-how. 

Choose your alcohol

Espresso martinis are made using two types of alcohol: vodka and coffee liqueur. Since alcohol is quite a prominent feature of an espresso martini, you should choose the highest-quality spirits you can afford. Kahlua is the coffee liqueur of choice for espresso martinis; however, you can use basically any other coffee liqueur of your choice, such as St. George Nola Coffee Liqueur. If you already have a favorite vodka, go ahead and use that. Otherwise, Grey Goose French Premium Vodka is a solid mid-range choice. 

Choose your coffee

It goes without saying that coffee is an integral part of an espresso martini, so you should choose a coffee that you love. For the best-tasting espresso, you should start with whole beans and grind them before brewing your coffee. Although you can use espresso powder or strong French press coffee in a pinch, it's best to use freshly brewed espresso. If in doubt about which beans to use, Tiny Footprint Coffee Nicaragua Segovia Dark Roast is a great choice.  

Espresso martini ingredients

You'll need the following ingredients to make an espresso martini. The quantities below are enough to make two, but you can easily increase them or decrease them as needed. 

  • 4 ounces of vodka
  • 1.5 ounces of Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
  • 2 ounces of espresso
  • 0.5 ounces of simple syrup
  • Ice for shaking
  • 6 coffee beans to garnish (optional)

How to make an espresso martini

Chill glasses

It's nice to have chilled glasses in which to serve an espresso martini, so go ahead and put them in the fridge to chill before you start on the rest of the process. 

Make a sugar syrup

Espresso martinis are sweetened using a simple syrup made from sugar and water. It will need some time to cool, so make this first. You can also buy simple syrup ready-made if you don't want to make your own.

Add 2 ounces of water to a saucepan and heat it until it's just about to come to a boil. Add 4 ounces of sugar and stir until fully dissolved. You've now made a simple syrup. You'll only need a little of this syrup for each martini, but you can store the rest in the fridge for up to 3 weeks to use for other cocktails or even to sweeten your tea or coffee. 

Brew some espresso

Brew your espresso using your choice of whole or ground beans. If you own an espresso maker, you should definitely fire it up for this, since it makes the best crema which will result in a more satisfying foam to top your martinis with when you shake the mixture. If you don't have an espresso machine, you probably don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on one just to make espresso martinis. Instead, you can use a stovetop espresso maker, which produces rich concentrated coffee that's almost as strong as espresso and works well in espresso martinis. 

Though you only need 2 ounces of coffee to make a batch of two espresso martinis, it's worth brewing extra if you think you might make more later. Once you've brewed your coffee, put it in the fridge to chill. It doesn't need to be completely chilled to make your martinis, but if it's too hot it can melt the ice when you shake it and dilute the drink. 

Mix the ingredients

Once the coffee and sugar syrup have cooled slightly, it's time to mix your drinks. Start by putting a handful of ice into a cocktail shaker, then add the 4 ounces of vodka and 1.5 ounces of coffee liqueur, followed by the 0.5 ounces of simple syrup and 2 ounces of coffee. 


With all the ingredients in the cocktail shaker, put the lid on and shake it well. The shaking process mixes and chills the ingredients simultaneously, while also creating the foam that will sit on top of your espresso martini. 


Remove your chilled martini glasses from the fridge and pour equal quantities of espresso martini into each. You may need to open the shaker and spoon out some of the foam inside to top your martini if it doesn't all come out through the strainer. For a more professional look, you can add three whole roasted coffee beans on top of the foam as a garnish. The three beans come from an Italian tradition when serving sambuca, with one representing health, one representing wealth and one representing happiness. Now that your espresso martinis are ready, drink up and enjoy. 

What you need to buy to make espresso martinis

Elevated Craft Hybrid Cocktail Shaker

This insulated cocktail shaker is perfect for drinks you shake with ice — like espresso martinis. It also integrates a measuring device into the top of the shaker. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Luigi Bormioli Crescendo Martini Glasses

These classic, elegant martini glasses are just what you need to serve your espresso martinis. 

Where to buy: Sold by Bed Bath and Beyond and Amazon

Bialetti Express Moka Pot

If you don't own an espresso maker, a moka pot is the next best thing and comes at a far more reasonable price. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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