Top view of the creamy foam and espresso bean garnish on a classic espresso martini with additional beans alongside.

Espresso martinis are a delightful union of coffee and cocktails, offering a perfect blend of bitter and sweet notes. Do you ever find yourself torn between needing a caffeine kick and craving a cocktail? Enter this espresso martini recipe—a delightful concoction that seamlessly marries the best of both worlds.

Close view of a chilled coffee cocktail in a stemmed glass on a dark background.

What is an espresso martini?

An espresso martini is like the perfect marriage of your morning pick-me-up and a sophisticated evening cocktail. It’s a coffee-flavored cocktail that blends the rich, robust flavor of espresso with the kick of vodka, creating a delightful balance between bitter and sweet. Common claims say that this drink was invented in the 1980s by the legendary London bartender Dick Bradsell, who crafted it for a supermodel in need of a caffeine-infused pick-me-up.

Are espresso martinis sweet?

The beauty of the espresso martini is that you can tailor it to your liking and make it as sweet as you’d like. The Kahlua adds a bit of sweetness, so if you’d like a less-sweet cocktail, use less or no simple syrup.  

A coupe glass filled with an espresso martini stands on a kitchen linen with additional beans at the foot of the glass.

What are the ingredients for this espresso martini recipe?

To make an espresso martini, you’ll need:

  • Espresso: The star of the show, espresso provides an intense coffee flavor. You’ll need a shot of freshly brewed espresso so it’s rich and aromatic.
  • Vodka: The alcohol in this cocktail is usually vodka, which complements the coffee flavor without overpowering it.
  • Coffee Liqueur: You can use homemade Kahlúa or store-bought coffee liquor. This ingredient adds sweetness and depth to the cocktail.
  • Ice: To chill and dilute the mixture slightly.
  • Coffee Beans: For garnish and a touch of aromatic flair.
  • Simple Syrup (optional): If you want it sweeter, add simple syrup to taste.

What kind of alcohol do you put in an espresso martini?

Vodka is the go-to choice for an espresso martini. Its neutral flavor allows the coffee and coffee liqueur to shine, creating a harmonious blend of tastes. You can experiment with different types of vodka if you’d like to elevate your cocktail even further, but good quality, unflavored vodka will work perfectly.

Top view of a coffee cocktail with a creamy foam and three espresso beans as garnish.

Can I use fresh, hot espresso?

Your coffee cocktail will come out much more flavorful if you cool the espresso first—hot liquid will melt the ice and dilute the flavor in the cocktail shaker! Brew 1 1/2 shots of espresso in your espresso machine, and then pour the hot coffee into a shallow bowl. Stick the espresso bowl in the freezer for about five minutes, and it will be cool enough to make a martini!

Can you make an espresso martini with regular coffee?

We don’t recommend it—you’ll lose out on some of the rich, bold coffee flavor and the foamy top. For those same reasons, we don’t recommend using instant coffee or instant espresso. Stick with espresso or cold brew concentrate!

A coupe glass filled with an espresso martini stands on a kitchen linen with additional beans at the foot of the glass.

Want more fantastic martini recipes like this one?

A coffee cocktail served in a coupe glass on a grey counter with a dark background.

Classic Espresso Martini Recipe

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Espresso martinis blend the rich flavors of espresso with the sweet notes of coffee liqueur. Sipping one feels like a cozy coffee shop meeting a classy cocktail party!


  • Ice
  • 1 1/2 ounces espresso or cold brew concentrate, cooled
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1/2 ounce coffee liqueur (homemade or store-bought Kahlúa)
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup, optional
  • Coffee beans, for garnish


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add the brewed espresso or cold brew, vodka, coffee liqueur, and simple syrup (if using) to the shaker.
  3. Place lid on top and shake vigorously to combine, chill, and froth.
  4. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with coffee beans.


  • The coffee liqueur will add a bit of sweetness to this cocktail, so if you prefer a less sweet cocktail, you can omit or reduce the simple syrup.
  • You can easily double this recipe and still make it in an average-sized (18-20 ounce) cobbler cocktail shaker. Just split the cocktail between two glasses when pouring to serve.
  • Do not use warm or hot espresso in this recipe. It will melt the ice in the cocktail shaker and water down your drink.
  • If using freshly brewed espresso, cool it completely (and quickly!) by pouring it into a shallow bowl and placing the bowl in the freezer—it should cool to usable temperature in about 5 minutes.
  • Cold brew concentrate also works well here and makes this cocktail super quick to make. Just keep it stashed in the fridge for quick martinis whenever you’d like!
  • We don’t recommend using instant coffee, instant espresso, or regular brewed coffee—you won’t get the frothy top or as strong of a coffee flavor.
  • To make simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Cool completely before using in the cocktail—you can use the bowl-in-the-freezer trick to speed up the cooling process.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 455Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 890mgCarbohydrates: 67gFiber: 10gSugar: 32gProtein: 13g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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