The Best Espresso Martini

By: MeganPosted: 20/12/2021 Updated: 29/11/2023
Prep 5 minutes
Total 5 minutes
Energize yourself through the night with this bold and boozy espresso martini recipe. This dairy-free espresso martini made with three simple ingredients— vodka, Kahula, and espresso is the perfect after-dinner cocktail.
The Best Espresso Martini

Energize yourself through the night with the best espresso martini recipe. This dairy-free bold and boozy espresso martini is made with three simple ingredients— vodka, Kahlua, and espresso and is the perfect after-dinner cocktail.

A martini glass with an espresso martini on a counter with another glass and shaker nearby

Espresso martinis are having a moment right now. I have seen them popping up all over social media, on almost every restaurant menu, and have heard rave reviews from family and friends. They are fun, flirty, bold, and delicious which is the perfect type of energy we need as we enter this new year. If “new year new me” was a cocktail it would be the Espresso Martini. If you are looking for more holiday cocktails, check out my Peppermint White Russian as well.

What is an espresso martini?

An espresso martini is a sweet, rich, smooth, and dangerously addicting cocktail that is made with vodka, Kahlua, and espresso. It tastes similar to a lightly sweetened iced espresso with a splash of vodka in it. The rich coffee flavor cuts the alcohol flavor making this cocktail dangerously easy to drink. So sip responsibly!

A martini glass with an espresso martini with another glass and shaker nearby

Kitchen Equipment Needed

This espresso martini recipe is really easy and only needs two items of kitchen equipment.

  • Cocktail shaker: you will need a cocktail shaker to shake up all the ingredients with ice in this cocktail. I bought this cocktail shaker kit on Amazon and have used it for all of my cocktails!
  • Espresso Machine: you will need an espresso machine to create this cocktail at home. Alternatively, you can buy espresso at your local coffee shop and bring it home to create this cocktail.
The bar tools necessary for an espresso martini

Ingredients

This espresso martini recipe only contains four ingredients.

  1. Vodka: use your favorite vodka. My go-to is always Tito’s. If you want a sweeter and more vanilla-flavored cocktail, I recommend using Absolut vanilla-flavored vodka.
  2. Kahlua or coffee liqueur: Kahlua is a coffee and rum liqueur that adds a delicious bold flavoring to the cocktail. (You can also use Kahlua in my Tiramisu cake recipe as well!)
  3. Espresso: make sure to use strong espresso coffee preferably brewed in an espresso machine with a lot of froth.
  4. Simple Syrup: this is used to sweeten the cocktail. If you prefer a stronger bolder coffee flavor you can eliminate the simple syrup altogether. You can buy simple syrup in bottles or make it by boiling a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water until the sugar dissolves and cooling it before using.
The various ingredients necessary for an espresso martini

Substitutions

If you want to level up this espresso martini recipe, here are some suggestions for different flavor profiles.

  • Vanilla Vodka: instead of regular vodka, if you want a more subtle kick I recommend adding Absolut Vanilla vodka for a smoother finish.
  • Vanilla Syrup: if you tend to like your cocktails even sweeter then add vanilla syrup instead of simple syrup.
  • Caramel Syrup: if you want a more caramel flavor add caramel syrup instead of simple syrup.
  • Hazelnut Syrup: if you want a more chocolatey nutty espresso martini use hazelnut syrup instead of simple syrup.
  • Peppermint Syrup: for a fun holiday spin try using peppermint syrup for a delicious minty taste!

Espresso Substitutes

If fresh espresso isn’t available, you can substitute it with a strong coffee alternative like Vietnamese Coffee or your choice of Cold Brew.

How To Make The Best Espresso Martini

With such a short ingredient list, the instructions for this espresso martini recipe are just as easy to follow. Here is exactly how you make the best Kahlua espresso martini:

  1. Brew the espresso. Brew the espresso in your espresso machine, or Nespresso machine or simply buy espresso from your local coffee shop. Cool and set aside.
  2. Shake. In a cocktail shaker, combine the espresso, vodka, and Kahlua with ice. Shake vigorously until well mixed and the foam has formed.
  3. Strain and serve. Immediately, strain the Kahlua espresso martini into a cocktail glass. Dust with espresso powder and coffee beans for garnish. Sip responsibly!
Pouring a mixed espresso martini into a glass from a metal shaker and strainer

Expert Tips

  • Cool the coffee before mixing. Make sure to cool the espresso completely before shaking it with the other ingredients for a nice chilled cocktail.
  • To get a nice layer of foam, shake vigorously. You will need to create the foam yourself by shaking it in the cocktail shaker.
  • Sift the cocktail quickly. When pouring the Kahlua espresso martini cocktail into the glass, make sure to do it in one pour to ensure the foam ends up on top.
  • To create a simple syrup. Simply boil a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and store it in the refrigerator. Make sure it is completely cooled before using.

Frequently Asked Q&A’s

What makes the foam on top of an espresso martini?

The beautiful froth on top of this Kahlua espresso martini comes from the espresso that was used. Typically an espresso brewed from an espresso machine will naturally produce this result. You will not get this beautiful foam by using instant coffee or using a French press.

To create the foam, make sure you shake your shaker hard so that the natural oils in the coffee can combine with the air bubbles. After you shake the cocktail, tap and swirl the shaker to ensure a creamy foam on the top of your martini.

What if I don’t have an espresso machine?

If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can simply brew really strong coffee and add an egg white to the shaker and shake vigorously. This will generate the foam you want as well.

What is the significance of the three coffee beans on top?

The three floating beans come from the traditional serving of Sambuca in Italy. The three beans are called con la Mosca, meaning “with the fly.” They represent health, wealth, and happiness.

Did you try this Espresso Martini recipe?

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A martini glass with an espresso martini with another glass and shaker nearby

The Best Espresso Martini

4.54 from 15 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Energize yourself through the night with this bold and boozy espresso martini recipe. This dairy-free espresso martini made with three simple ingredients— vodka, Kahula, and espresso is the perfect after-dinner cocktail.
Servings: 1 cocktail
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce Kahlua
  • 1 ounce brewed espresso cooled
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 3 Coffee beans garnish

Instructions

  • Brew the espresso.
    Brew the espresso in your espresso machine, Nespresso machine, or simply buy espresso from your local coffee shop. Cool and set aside.
  • Shake.
    In a cocktail shaker, combine the espresso, vodka, and Kahlua with ice. Shake vigorously until well mixed and the foam has formed.
  • Strain and serve.
    Immediately, strain the espresso martini into a cocktail glass. Dust with espresso powder and coffee beans for garnish. Sip responsibly!

Notes

  • Cool the coffee before mixing. Make sure to cool the coffee completely before shaking it with the other ingredients for a nice chilled cocktail.
  • To get the nice layer of foam, shake vigorously. You will need to create the foam yourself by shaking it in the cocktail shaker.
  • Sift the cocktail quickly. When pouring the cocktail into the glass, make sure to do it in one pour to ensure the foam ends up on top.
  • To create a simple syrup. Simply boil a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and store it in the refrigerator. Make sure it is completely cooled before using.
  • Nutrition:

    Serving: 1g | Calories: 505kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 884mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 38g

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    Recipe Rating




    1. 5 stars
      Fabulous!!!! Skipped the simple syrup for me but added it for my friend and used vanilla kahlua. It has already been requested for our spring brunch

    2. 5 stars
      amazing!! and so easy to make. people love it. definitely have to use espresso machine to get that nice foam. one question…where did you get those beautiful cocktail glasses???? I need those!