Espresso Martini Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 10 min.
Here's how to make a simple and sophisticated espresso martini at home—a drink that will delight cocktail aficionados and coffee lovers alike.

Updated: Apr. 15, 2024

If you enjoy cocktails, then you’ve probably heard of the espresso martini. It soared in popularity in 2021 and grew into a full-on craze during 2022—similar to other drinks of that year, like the Aperol spritz and the Negroni sbagliato. On TikTok, videos about the drink have been viewed more than 806 million times. And in 2022, Food + Wine declared that it “reigns supreme” among cocktails.

Bartenders often comment that when one person orders an espresso martini, suddenly everyone wants one. If you’ve caught the craving, we’ll show you how to make an espresso martini at home so you can enjoy this popular libation anytime.

What is an espresso martini?

A classic vodka martini is a blend of vodka with dry vermouth. An espresso martini keeps the vodka but then takes a dark turn, with bitter espresso and a shot of coffee liqueur—like Kahlua. When the ingredients are shaken with ice and poured into a glass they develop a light brown layer of foam on top. Three coffee beans garnish the attractive drink.

The espresso martini is a relatively young cocktail, first shaken in 1983 by a legendary London bartender named Dick Bradsell. He created it for a young model who requested a cocktail that would “wake her up.” It was reportedly the preferred drink of 1990s supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss.

Why did the espresso martini have a resurgence?

There are a couple of possibilities as to why the espresso martini returned to the spotlight in 2022. Overall 1990s nostalgia could be one reason. Some claim a paparazzi photo of Timothée Chalamet drinking espresso martinis with Larry David also helped fuel the trend.

Whatever the reason, the research firm CGA by Nielsen IQ reported that the caffeinated concoction entered the top-10 list of most-ordered cocktails at U.S. bars, displacing classics like the Manhattan. Beverage conglomerate Pernod Ricard noted that its sales of Kahlua (one of the drink’s key ingredients) hit a new record, growing by double digits globally.

Espresso Martini Ingredients

Espresso Martini IngredientsTMB Studio

  • Vodka: Though a martini can be made with gin or vodka, vodka is the best base liquor for an espresso martini recipe. It has a more neutral taste that mixes well with bitter espresso.
  • Espresso: Good quality espresso makes all the difference here. If you’re pulling a fresh shot of espresso for this cocktail, allow it to cool slightly so the thermal shock doesn’t crack your martini glasses.
  • Coffee liqueur: Made from rum and coffee beans, coffee liqueur adds sweetness to an espresso martini recipe and deepens the coffee flavor.

Directions

Step 1: Add ingredients to a shaker

Fill cocktail shaker with ice-cubes, vodka, cooled espresso, Kahlua and simple syrupTMB Studio

Fill a cocktail shaker three-quarters full with ice cubes. Pour in the vodka, cooled espresso, Kahlua and simple syrup, if using it.

Step 2: Shake and strain

Secure the shaker cover, and then shakeTMB Studio

Secure the shaker cover, and then shake it for about 10 to 15 seconds, until condensation forms on the outside of the container.

Strain the liquid into a martini glassTMB Studio

Strain the liquid into a martini glass or a cocktail glass.

Step 3: Serve

Add three coffee beans to the topTMB Studio

Add three coffee beans to the drink; they’ll float in the layer of froth above the dark drink below. Serve the drink immediately.

Serve the Espresso Martini with beans floating on the topTMB STUDIO

Espresso Martini Variations

  • Swap the vodka for whiskey: If you like an Irish coffee, then you’ll love a whiskey espresso martini. Simply swap the two ounces of vodka for two ounces of whiskey. Sure, this might not make it a true martini, but we won’t tell!
  • Add chocolate: Easily make this drink a chocolate espresso martini by swapping out the coffee liqueur for chocolate liqueur.
  • Use flavored vodka: Test out different flavored vodkas—like salted caramel or vanilla—in your espresso martini recipe to make it even sweeter.

Can you store an espresso martini?

We recommend making this espresso martini recipe right before serving since it’s a shaken cocktail rather than a party punch or sangria that can be made in advance.

Espresso Martini Tips

Why do you top this martini with three coffee beans?

It’s said that three coffee beans on an espresso martini represent health, wealth and happiness. It’s similar to the traditional way of serving Sambuca, the anise-flavored Italian liqueur. The beans are an attractive garnish, floating on the surface and contrasting with the light foam underneath.

Can I use coffee instead of espresso for an espresso martini?

No espresso machine? No problem. Bring the bold coffee flavor to this cocktail by substituting cold brew, strong drip, pour-over coffee or instant espresso. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s room temperature or chilled.

How do I make my espresso martini frothy?

One way to create a foam layer in an espresso martini is to shake the ingredients, which causes air bubbles to suspend in the espresso’s natural oils. For the best results, shake everything vigorously for up to 30 seconds. Strain most of the drink through the cocktail shaker, then add the foam through a fine mesh strainer.

Other ways to create a foam-topped martini are to add creamy ingredients to the shaker, like heavy cream or a cream liqueur, although these will change the color and texture of the drink. If you have a handheld frother or frothing wand on your espresso machine, you can use it to create cold foam from milk that can be spooned on top of the martini.

Do you have to use a cocktail shaker for this recipe?

If you plan to make a lot of mixed drinks at home, a cocktail shaker is a stylish and worthwhile investment. However, if you don’t have one, use another container with a tight-fitting lid, such as a mason jar, travel coffee cup or a single-size blender drink jar.

Watch how to Make Espresso Martini

Espresso Martini

Prep Time 10 min
Yield 1 serving.

Ingredients

  • Ice cubes
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce brewed cooled espresso or cold brew coffee
  • 1/2 ounce Kahlua (coffee liqueur)
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup, optional
  • 3 coffee beans

Directions

  1. Fill a shaker three-fourths full with ice. Add vodka, espresso, Kahula and, if desired, simple syrup. Cover and shake until condensation forms on outside of shaker, 10-15 seconds. Strain into glass; top with coffee beans. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

1 martini: 190 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 6mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate (7g sugars, 0 fiber), 0 protein.

For a change of pace from mimosas, serve this wake-up cocktail for your next brunch. Coffee lovers will thank you. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen