Espresso Martini

A delicious combination of sweet and robust, all in one coffee cocktail. This espresso martini is not a real martini however, it does use the name. The combination of a strong brewed coffee, coffee liqueur, and vodka in equal parts makes the drink smooth and creamy. Shake it well to create a foam layer on top. You can add milk for extra creamy texture and foam, and you can also add other liqueurs for an extra dash of flavor, like crème de cacao. Of course, you can also always add a flavored vodka. While a hot-brewed and cooled coffee work just fine, a cold-brewed coffee gives the best flavor. Traditionally, you use three coffee beans as a garnish on top of this cocktail. 

Where does the Espresso Martini come from?

There is a lot of speculation about the origins of the Espresso Martini. However, the most famous story (which has been confirmed by the alleged inventor) is that of Dick Bradsell. When he first made it in 1983, he called it the ‘Vodka Espresso.’ He created the coffee cocktail after a woman had asked him for a coffee cocktail. 

The name of the cocktail changed to ‘Pharmaceutical Stimulant’ during Bradsell’s time at The Pharmacist, a bar he worked at. Then, it changed back to the ‘Vodka Espresso’ when he switched workplaces. 

In the late nineties, however, Martinis became extremely popular, and they were used, drank, and sold everywhere. So, to follow the hype, the Vodka Espresso was coined the ‘Espresso Martini.’

Espresso martini with kahlua

Why is it not a real Martini?

Originally, Martinis are made from a combination of gin and vermouth, with an olive or a slice of lemon. Some variants include vodka, but those are called ‘Vodka Martinis’ specifically. The reason the Espresso Martini is not a “true” Martini is that it does not contain any of the ingredients that generally appear in a Martini, which is fair reasoning. However, due to the popularity of the name, it stuck. 

People tend to have a coffee or tea after dinner, especially when in restaurants. Therefore, this Espresso Martini is ideal for drinking after a satisfying dinner. It will relieve you from the overly full feeling while giving you a quick energy boost. Of course, this drink is best enjoyed in good company. So, if you’re planning on making your own cocktail, invite over some friends and make it a potluck with cocktails at the end!

The secret behind adding Kahlua

Kahlua came from Mexico in the 1930s, where two brothers mixed roasted coffee beans with rum made from sugar canes. This combination has the perfect blend of a sweet drink with the energizing and robust aftertaste of coffee in one Kahlua drink. It’s ideal for a little pick-me-up, which is what the Espresso Martini is made for. 

espresso martini

Cocktail Variations

Even though the Espresso Martini is a variation already, there are a few more things you can do to spice up your cocktail.

For instance, you can substitute the milk in the recipe for a heavy cream. This makes the drink even creamier and sweeter. You can also use flavored vodka, like vanilla vodka, to add a little extra sweetness to this drink. 

If you think the Kahlua drink is a bit too much coffee-flavored, you can also substitute it for a different flavored liqueur, like hazelnut liqueur, or caramel, or cocoa. This adds the same sweetness as the flavored vodka, but without the extra dash of coffee. 

espresso martini with 3 coffee beans

Espresso Martini

Yield: 1
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

A smooth and delicious coffee cocktail made with Kahlua


  • 2 ounces cold brew coffee or espresso
  • 2 ounces Kahlua
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce milk
  • Coffee beans for garnish


    Pour all liquid ingredients into an ice filled shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail or martini glass. Garnish with 3 coffee beans.

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espresso martini
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