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The perfect espresso martini

Espresso Martini – Up All Night

I love good coffee and fine alcohol, so unsurprisingly I adore Espresso Martini, first created by the legendary Dick Bradsell at London’s Soho Brasserie in the Eighties. It was originally called a Vodka Espresso. It has become known as an Espresso Martini although that is a slight misnomer because there isn’t any Gin used.

It’s a simple recipe, but practice makes perfect, and there are plenty of variations too. I like mine to be dry, but you can vary the sweetness easily. The whole thing only takes as long as it takes to make coffee, so less than five minutes. For each serving you need:

  • 50 ml of Vodka
    A single shot of hot, strong espresso
    20 ml coffee liqueur
    Loads of crushed ice


Excellent Vodka. Ketel One or Grey Goose are both smooth. Others swear by Absolut or Wyborowva. Using flavoured vodka is less successful. However, vanilla is now a popular variation.

Coffee liqueur. Kahlúa or Caffé Lolita are popular while Tia Maria is found at the back of many a cupboard. If you want to impress, try Borghetti Espresso Liqueur from Italy. Borghetti is my favourite of these because it’s less sweet.

No other ingredients are necessary. I have tried crème de cacao, which is too sweet for my taste but adds chocolate and vanilla flavour. Some bars add Baileys, which turns the whole thing into a kind of calorific Cappuccino but looks unappealingly sludgy. If you have a sweeter tooth, then add 5 ml sugar syrup.

The Espresso

This cocktail stands or falls according to the quality of the coffee. The coffee needs to be rich, heavy-toned and powerful. Instant or filter coffee is awful. There are, of course, numerous ways to make espresso, but whatever the method, the results need a strong Italian espresso roast. Of the big brands, some swear by Illy, while I like Lavazza.

Shake and serve

Fill the bottom half of a cocktail shaker with crushed ice, pour in the Vodka and then the chosen liqueur, now add the hot espresso. A vigorous shake chills the mix quickly. Do this long enough to make it froth as this creates the white foam that sits over the black liquid in the glass. Now strain the contents slowly into a pre-chilled Martini glass over ice cubes.

An optional touch is to float three coffee beans on top as a garnish. Some sprinkle powdered cocoa on top instead.

Time to drink. If making another, I guarantee you a long night ahead… this caffeine and alcohol combination “wakes you up and then fucks you up,” as someone said, allegedly. But in a good way.

If you like this, then take a look at Montenegroni.

Meanwhile, Gin fans, here’s an article about Premium Gin.

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