15 Espresso Martinis Worth Traveling For
It might be a long shot to plan a trip based entirely around a coffee-spiked cocktail, but let's be real, it's also a great idea.
Espresso martinis are having a moment. The coffee-spiked drink had quite a year in 2022 — and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. As more bars put their creative spin on the tipple with spirits and ingredients that deviate from the original recipe, airlines like Delta have even started serving them at 36,000 feet.
While the cocktail may have British origins — as the tale goes, bartender Dick Bradsell whipped up the drink on the fly in the ‘80s for a model who asked for something that would wake her up — there are plenty of spots in the United States that serve an exemplary espresso martini. Whether you’re looking for one that stays true to tradition or an inventive take that’ll leave you surprised (and wake you up) here are 15 noteworthy espresso martinis across the U.S.
Dante, New York City
There’s a reason that Dante has been named one of the best bars in the world. While they may be best known for their Negronis, the restaurant-cum-bar also makes a stellar espresso martini. Dante’s principal Linden Pride notes that their “main focus is utilizing high-quality ingredients,” such as espresso made from their specialty in-house blended coffee alongside Grey Goose vodka and Mr. Black coffee liqueur. But the most important factor? Technique. “Shake extra hard and always double strain — [the latter] ensures no ice chips weigh down the cocktail and gives it that extra fluffy texture we love.”
Phởcific Standard Time, Seattle
Coffee plays a significant role in Vietnamese culture and for those who are familiar with Vietnamese coffee, using it in an espresso martini would seem to be a natural choice. Typically brewed from Robusta beans, it has a stronger flavor and more caffeine than Arabica beans, making it perfect for anyone wanting a second wind. Yet very few bars take advantage of this underrated varietal.
Enter Phởcific Standard Time. Located above Seattle’s much beloved Phở Bắc restaurant, this cocktail bar pays homage to Vietnamese ingredients and flavors. Here, co-owner Yenvy Pham takes inspiration from cà phê là dứa, a Vietnamese coffee with pandan and milk. Pham, who also has a roastery called Hello Em Việt Coffee & Roastery, sources her beans from Buon Ma Thuot, Vietnam — the country's largest coffee-producing region — and roasts them on-site in Seattle’s Little Saigon. For the Cà Phê Tini, she combines Vietnamese coffee with vodka, Mr. Black coffee liqueur, and condensed milk and tops it with dehydrated pandan for a “fun, caffeinated, creamy, and boozy” drink.
Bar Marilou at Maison de la Luz, New Orleans
Attached to Maison de la Luz, one of New Orleans’ finest boutique hotels, is Bar Marilou — a stunning lounge with French-inspired decor and an eclectic drink menu that gains inspiration from around the world. Their interpretation of the espresso martini looks to Mexico. “La Luz Espresso came by accident,” recalls general manager Ryan Wilkins. “We received Goslings 151 dark rum with our order by mistake and we made a tincture with habanero [out of it] that was meant for a completely different drink [that] never made it to the menu.”
From there, he credits lead bartender Lindsey Hawes with combining the aforementioned tincture with Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters “to give the drink a profile inspired by Mexican spiced chocolate.” The cocktail naturally includes tequila — El Mayor Reposado, to be exact — along with freshly brewed espresso, Mr. Black coffee liqueur, demerara syrup, and a few drops of saline solution to “balance the bitter notes and enhance the other flavors of the drink.” It’s then topped with a few dashes of Fee Brothers Fee Foam, a vegan foaming agent, and finished off with a dusting of guajillo, cinnamon, and fine-ground espresso.
The Emerald Room at The Aimsir Distilling Co., Portland, Oregon
While Portland may be best known for its breweries, the city is also home to a host of craft distilleries. At The Aimsir Distilling Co., one of their many spirits is a cold brew bourbon made with coffee from local roaster Junior's Roasted Coffee. Guests can pop into their tasting room to try a bevy of cocktails made with their range of spirits, including the Mocha Martini. The cocktail combines the company’s cold brew bourbon, Stone Barn Nocino, crème de cacao, chocolate syrup, coconut milk, and walnut bitters. “We used walnut bitters as an homage to the Pacific Northwest,” says co-founder Christine Hopkins. While the coconut milk was partly due to Hopkins’ intolerance to lactose, it was also chosen because it adds a nice richness and flavor to the drink.
Arguably one of the most creative bars in Dallas, Apothecary puts their own spin on the classic espresso martini. Here, the Espresso Martinique uses Rhum J.M. Blanc 80, a rhum agricole produced on the island from which the cocktail gets its punny name. And since Martinique is a French isle, they pair it with Grand Brulot VSOP Cognac & Café Liqueur, which bar manager Gregory Huston says plays nicely with the grassy aspects of the rhum. Finally, for a bit of sweetness, they add a touch of salted honey along with a malted molasses whipped cream on top.
Here & Now, Los Angeles
At Here & Now, the house espresso martini is dubbed “Oh What’s That?” Owner Sarah Meade finds that darker spirits pair better with coffee, so she’s chosen Argonaut Saloon Strength Brandy for the cocktail. The spirit’s flavor profile, “in particular notes of vanilla and baking spices,” complements Verve’s Streetlevel blend of espresso and Mr. Black’s coffee liqueur. The concoction is then poured into a cheeky, tea cup–shaped martini glass for an unexpected presentation.
Garden Bar Phx, Phoenix
If you’re looking for a zero-proof version of an espresso martini, Garden Bar Phx is here to deliver. Their EXpresso Martini uses Noverna, a house-made, non-alcoholic amaro with a similar flavor profile to Averna. “It’s bittersweet with flavors of chicory and light baking spices,” says owner Kim Haasarud. The mocktail also includes cold-brew coffee from local roaster Cartel Roasting Co. and is sweetened with a hint of demerara syrup. For a bit of indulgence, you can ask the bartenders to add a hand-whipped cream topped with cacao nibs.
The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club, Nashville
Coffee and cereal in cocktail form? We’ll take it. The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club’s Honey Bear Espresso Martini combines Grey Goose vodka, toasted oat milk, cinnamon and clove–spiced maple syrup, Faretti Biscotti liqueur, and cold brew from the bar’s sibling business, Elegy Coffee. The result is “a boozy version of that perfect last sip of milk after a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios,” says head bartender Laura Unterberg.
Thunderbolt, Los Angeles
Chocolate and coffee are a match made in heaven and Thunderbolt takes this natural pairing to the next level. Instead of using actual chocolate, which can make the drink heavy and overly sweet, their Mocha Martini uses Copalli Cacao white rum for a “light and dry cocoa flavoring that works well with the nutty notes of Amontillado sherry,” says general manager Camron Robertson. The cocktail also includes vodka and a cold-brew concentrate by Counter Culture, and is kegged to ensure consistency and the perfect temperature. Plus, with a nitro tap, it “gives us a rich pour that cascades like a Guinness, finishing with a lovely crema.”
Coffee + Cocktails, New York City
With a name like Coffee + Cocktails, it comes as no surprise that this bar tucked away in Gansevoort Meatpacking whips up a good espresso martini. Their signature is a combination of house-infused vanilla Grey Goose vodka, Caffè Borghetti espresso liqueur, fresh espresso, and Fernet Branca. “The vanilla Grey Goose gives just the right amount of sweetness without a syrup while Fernet Branca provides freshness to your palate with herbal and spice notes in the aftertaste,” says food and beverage director Federico Doldi. The cocktail is then spritzed with fresh lemon oils from the fruit’s peel to “enhance the coffee aroma [and] eliminate bitterness.”
Kō Bar, Maui, Hawaii
At Fairmont Kea Lani’s Kō Bar, they stick true to the original recipe of vodka, espresso, and Kahlúa. But given that Maui is Hawaii’s most bountiful island when it comes to agriculture, they’ve sourced their beans from local Social Hour Coffee Roasters so that guests can experience what this beautiful isle has to offer.
Jimmy, New York City
The reimagined Jimmy at ModernHaus SoHo serves up panoramic views of the city alongside excellent cocktails. Their Coco Espresso Martini includes Reyka vodka, Caffè Borghetti espresso liqueur, Mr. Black coffee liqueur, and coconut milk — the last of which mixologist Johnny Swet says “adds a luxurious creamy texture and the perfect layer of silky foam.” It’s garnished with star anise to add a nice little kick with every sip.
Service Bar, Washington, D.C.
Service Bar, a low-key, U Street staple offers customers a long list of cocktails that includes the SB Espresso Martini. Vodka, Don Ciccio & Figil Concerto coffee liqueur, and coconut are joined by a double brew nitro coffee, giving the tipple a deep coffee flavor and velvety texture. It’s then topped off with shavings of 99 percent bittersweet chocolate to add a note of cacao without the sweetness.
The Dead Rabbit, New York City
World-renowned for its Irish Coffee and extensive selection of whiskey, this award-winning pub combines the two for its iteration of the espresso martini. The Dead Rabbit’s Irish Coffee Martini features Bushmills Original, Mr. Black coffee liqueur, Angostura cacao bitters, a touch of demerara-molasses syrup, and espresso made from a custom blend by Irish roaster Calendar Coffee. Bar director Ian Alexander believes that it’s “the right balance of bitter, sweet, and strong.”
Ball & Chain, Miami
Another bar that believes dark spirits pair best with coffee, the espresso martini at Ball & Chain combines Haig Club whisky with crème de cacao and mint syrup. And given that this live music venue is located in Calle Ocho, the heart of Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, it only makes sense that Cuban espresso is the star.
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