Pick you up, wind you down…this drink does it all.
On a day-to-day basis, I pretty much drink coffee until I deem that it’s appropriate to switch to wine. Given this schedule, I don’t know how it’s never occurred to me to have an espresso martini to bridge the gap. I first tried this magical elixir in a hotel bar while on a trip, trying to muster up the energy for a dinner out after a long travel day. It was the perfect pick-me-up, and once I realized just how easy it is to make at home, it became part of my rotation. Perfect for those nights when you want to dress up and have an at-home date night, served as an after-dinner drink at a dinner party, or just to sip in your PJs during Sunday brunch, the espresso martini is sure to become one of your new favorite cocktails.
Rumor has it that this popular drink originated in London in the 1980s when Kate Moss asked bartender Dick Bradsell for a boozy drink that would also wake her up. The chilled, refreshing cocktail combines espresso coffee, coffee liquor, and simple syrup for a combination that meets the supermodel’s request.
Let’s break down each of those components.
Espresso: Freshly brewed espresso is best here. Just let it chill in the fridge for a few moments so that it doesn’t melt all your ice (and get watered down). You could also use a cold brew concentrate, but using just regular strength coffee will lead to a weaker-tasting drink.
Coffee liqueur: This adds a touch of sweetness and a concentrated coffee flavor. The most common is Kahlúa, but you can use any coffee liquor you have or find at the store.
Simple syrup: This adds a little more sweetness to balance out the bitterness of the espresso. It’s very easy to adjust the sweetness of your cocktail to taste by varying the amount of simple syrup. Start light here, since it’s easy to add more, or leave it out entirely. If you prefer a more bitter cocktail. For a creamier version you could use crème de cacao or an Irish cream like Baileys in place of the simple syrup. Just keep in mind that this will make the drink a little stronger, so you might want to add less vodka.
Basic espresso martini recipe:
- 1.5-ounces vodka
- 1 ounce espresso
- ½ ounce coffee liqueur
- ½ ounce simple syrup
Add all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, shake for at least 10 seconds or longer for more frothiness, and strain into a martini glass.
Don’t have a cocktail shaker? You can use a to-go coffee cup with a secure lid and pour the drink out through the spout. I personally don’t have martini glasses at home and I love this cocktail served over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a few coffee beans if you’re feeling fancy, and enjoy!