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Kali Mireva

The Classic Espresso Martini Recipe: Why and How to Make It

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Cocktail trends come and go. While many don’t deserve special attention, others are here to stay. The Espresso Martini is one of the cocktail drinks we believe are going to stick around for longer. So if you are a bar or restaurant owner and don’t yet have it on your beverage menu, we are here to shed more light on the classic Espresso Martini recipe.

Espresso Martini is not only a delicious drink but a great digestif (see also: digestif spirits) to serve after a nice meal. Some restaurants even include it in their desserts menu as it goes perfectly with sweets and it’s a perfect way to end the evening. 

If you are considering expanding your offers or diversifying them, the classic Espresso Martini recipe is one to consider. We will dive deep into the history of this delicious bar drink and explain how to make it in the best possible way. Let’s get right into it!

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The Invention of the Classic Espresso Martini Recipe

There is a legend that Dick Bradsell created the classic Espresso Martini recipe in 1983. He was a British bartender known for his innovative cocktails. Bradsell is considered to be the inventor of many cocktails that are now modern classics. At some point, the media even described him as a “cocktail king” and said that he changed the London cocktail scene back in the 1980s. 

Dick Bradsell made the first Espresso Martini by mixing sugar and vodka with coffee liqueur and a shot of espresso. The cocktail turned out edgy and delicious, something that modern cocktails fail to achieve at times. 

Naming the Cocktail Espresso Martini

When Bradsell made the first Espresso Martini he didn’t have a name for it. However, during that time it was popular to name drinks after the glass they were served in. Since he used a martini glass, the name came naturally. People started calling this cocktail Espresso Martini because of the coffee shot and the glassware

Before everyone started calling it that, however, there was a short period when the drink was called “vodka espresso.” The word “martini” came later on because the original Martini recipe included gin and vermouth, not vodka. 

Key Takeaway: The classic Espresso Martini recipe has won the hearts of many, thanks to its unique coffee flavor and vodka base. It’s a great drink to enjoy as a digestif after a delicious meal or instead of dessert. Bars and restaurants can only benefit from serving this cocktail at their establishment.  

The Classic Espresso Martini Recipe

There are numerous variations of the classic Espresso Martini recipe. Just like with every popular cocktail, bartenders and mixologists all over the world try to put their own spin on it. Some variations are better than others but the classic recipe is a must in any bartender’s book. 

To make the perfect Espresso Martini, you need to follow some golden rules. Of course, the quality of the ingredients matters, but the process itself is crucial too. Here is all you need to do to achieve the perfect flavor and texture!

1. Use Fresh Espresso Every Time!

As the name of the cocktail suggests, espresso is a huge part of it. That’s why you should first make a quality shot of espresso. When it’s ready, let the coffee cool down for a bit. If you are wondering what kind of coffee roast to use, either stick to the one your customers specifically asked for or make your own rules on which coffee blends should be used for cocktails. 

2. Don’t Stir - Shake It!

The most satisfying thing about the Espresso Martini is the crema. That’s the silky and foamy layer of bubbles that sit on top of the cocktail. The natural oils of the coffee have to combine with the air bubbles to create the delicate froth. The best way to do that is by shaking it well. 

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3. Use as Much Sugar as the Customer Wants

Not everyone has their coffee with sugar and you should keep that in mind. 5ml of sugar syrup may be fine for most people but others like to feel the strong taste of coffee. If that is the case, skip the syrup and let your customers enjoy the perfect Espresso Martini to their taste!

4. Don’t Compromise on the Quality of Vodka

Vodka plays a huge role in the classic Espresso Martini recipe. That’s why you need to choose a great vodka for it. The vodka needs to stand up to the coffee that you are using and to bring flavor, not just the strength of alcohol. The clean taste of Smirnoff No. 21 has subtle hints of pepper and charcoal, which makes it great to use in this cocktail.

If you want to learn more about vodka and which are the best brands of vodka to use, read our blog article on the topic. Experimenting on your own with vodkas from your beverage inventory is also a great option. 

5. Good Presentation Is a Must

The classic Espresso Martini recipe got a lot of attention and makeovers over the years. That’s why today some restaurants and bars choose not to serve this drink in a martini glass. However, if you are about to add this cocktail to your offers, we suggest you stick to the classic glassware. The shape of the glass allows you to showcase the beautiful crema and you can garnish it in a simple way and get stylish results. Put three coffee beans in the drink and let the customers enjoy it with all senses!

Espresso Martini Variations

The easiest way to make a different Espresso Martini than the competitors is by using different coffee blends of the espresso shot. Another popular way is by choosing to use craft vodka or other unique kinds so you can create a unique flavor.

However, over the years people have used all kinds of ingredients - from bailey’s to gingerbread syrup and other unique types of alcohol. Stay tuned if you want to learn more about that as we are going to have a whole article on this topic! Until then, you can experiment and create your own custom drinks.  

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Classic Espresso Martini Recipe

To learn more about this vodka cocktail, read the answers to these common questions. 

Can I Use Instant Coffee Instead of Freshly Brewed Espresso?

Freshly brewed espresso is the traditional choice for an Espresso Martini. Some recipes, however, do allow for the use of strong-brewed coffee or even high-quality instant coffee. Keep in mind that using espresso will provide the most authentic and robust flavor.

How to Garnish an Espresso Martini?

The classic garnish for an Espresso Martini is coffee beans. Float three coffee beans on top of the cocktail, which is said to represent health, wealth, and happiness. Additionally, you can experiment with chocolate shavings or a twist of orange peel as alternative garnishes.

Is Espresso Martini a Dessert Cocktail?

Although the classic Espresso Martini recipe makes many people choose it as a dessert cocktail, it’s more of an after-dinner drink. It’s commonly used as a pick-me-up after a larger meal at social events. If you are a bar or restaurant owner, you can either put it in your beverage or dessert menu, depending on your preferences. 

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