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Espresso Martini – The Best Known Coffee Cocktail

The espresso martini is the most famous coffee cocktail and was invented in the 1990s by the late bartender Dick Bradsell. He was one of the defining figures of the bar scene in his time.

As the story goes, a model, whom he never mentioned by name publicly, asked for a drink that would “wake me up, then fuck me up”. It turns out, that famous figure was Kate Moss.

The espresso martini is an original recipe with that uses vodka. Different bars make it differently. Often, only the basic ingredients namely vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso are the same. And the mixing ratios are almost always different, ranging from 4:1:1 to 1:1:1.

Perfect ratio for Espresso martini

If you drink an espresso martini, you want to have coffee in your mouth. Coffee is clearly the star in this drink. We only see the vodka as an alcoholic filler.  

Keeping in line with above ideology, you should rely more on coffee liqueur and espresso than vodka. But using the 1:1:1 ration makes the cocktail a little too soft, making it taste like cold coffee.

Recommended Espresso

If you have a choice, choose an espresso that is not too bitter, a full-bodied one with good roasted aromas. 

In addition to the coffee liqueur, the espresso is actually the most important factor for the consistency of espresso martini. That is why use espresso instead of watery filter coffee brew. 

And if the espresso is too bitter, you can balance it later with a bit of sugar syrup.

Recommended Vodka

When it comes to vodka, the same applies to every cocktail. Don’t take the cheapest or the most expensive. In aroma-intense drinks like the espresso martini, the vodka has a limited role to play.

Recommended Coffee Liqueur

Most recommend Kahlúa by default and that’s absolutely fine.

But if you want to take your drink to the next level, we recommend Borghetti espresso liqueur. As the name suggests, this is not a coffee-based liqueur, but an espresso-based one. Which really does justice to the name of the Espresso Martini.

If you are planning a holiday in Italy, you can of course also look for coffee liqueurs from smaller Italian manufacturers.

How much sugar is needed? 

If you use some bitter coffee liqueur, sugar can help balance the drink. 

Ultimately, it all depends on your taste and whether you need any at all. We like to use sugar syrup for the espresso martini because it dissolves particularly quickly and well.

Getting a Nice Head

The foam crown is the hallmark of an espresso martini. Without it, the cocktail simply does not evoke the espresso spirit. But there is only one way to get the foam right – shake like mad.

In addition to shaking, the second most important requirement for proper foam is the crema on your espresso. Because cold espresso no longer has any crema, there is only one way: you have to use hot brew that you mix directly with ice in the shaker. 

There is a simple reason for this. A good crema is a sign of a high fat content in the espresso. Similar to milk foam, the fat helps to stabilize the foam crown.

Together with the right temperature and sugar (from the coffee liqueur), you get a beautiful crown that is ready to be decorated with coffee beans.

Recipe

Espresso Martini

Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: drinks
Cuisine: american
Servings: 1 person

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 oz Vodka adjust to taste
  • 1/2 oz Simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz Coffee liqueur
  • 1 oz Freshly brewed espresso
  • Garnish: Coffee beans

Instructions

  • Cook the espresso. Let it cool down.
  • Put vodka, sugar or simple syrup, coffee liqueur and the cooled espresso in the shaker. Shake vigorously with ice cubes.
  • Strain the drink into a martini glass with a bar and fine strainer and garnish with the coffee beans.

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