The Ultimate Espresso Martini

The Rebirth of a Classic

When you hear the word history, what comes to mind? Some of you may wince from the memory of textbooks, exams, and date recollection. Yet, looking beyond the pages, history becomes a fluid experience we are immersed in constantly. History evolves into a living, breathing time capsule when focusing on celebrating cultures. That evolution is a core element in various industries, including art, fashion, beauty, design, and culinary. In the world of cocktails, we are amidst most recent wave of popularity with the espresso martini.

The Origin of Espresso Martinis

While the exact details of the creation of espresso martinis are muddled (cocktail pun intended,) two points are considered the most credible. First, Dock Bradsell, a career bartender, created the espresso martini. Bradsell made a name for himself as a celebrity bartender, and his drink creations were actively sought after. Though there isn’t an exact date, the espresso martini creation occurred during the mid-1980s at a London bar. The rumor is that a model walked up to Bradsell asking for a cocktail that would “wake me up, and f*** me up.” Whether or not that’s how the ingredients found their way into his shaker, Bradsell’s cocktail is gaining popularity thirty years later. But what exactly did he mix into the creation? 

Espresso Martini Ingredients

Espresso martinis include four ingredients: freshly brewed espresso, vodka, coffee liqueur, and optional simple syrup. The syrup helps cut down on the bitterness of the coffee. For those who drink black coffee, you may not need syrup. While you can make a larger batch of espresso ahead of time, for the best flavor, freshly brewed espresso is a must! A variation of the classic espresso martini is substituting the coffee liqueur with Irish cream. The taste is sweeter and produces a cocktail that is lighter in color. 

fresh espresso

Espresso Martini Perfection Tips

While espresso martinis are simple regarding the number of ingredients, how you mix an espresso martini can affect the taste and appearance. Luckily, a few simple tips and tricks will ensure a perfect espresso martini each time! 

  • Always use freshly brewed espresso and not regular coffee. Regular coffee produces less foam on top once mixed compared to espresso. 
  • Chill all ingredients before adding ice to your shaker. Chilled ingredients help prevent ice from melting and watering down cocktails. You can place a shaker with the liquid ingredients in a freezer first to chill them rapidly. 
  • If the chilled shaker is too cold to hold, wrap it in a towel to keep your hands warm while shaking. 
  • When mixing your cocktail, be vigorous! The ice agitates the ingredients and produces foam on top of the cocktail once poured.   
espresso martini

Espresso Martini

Espresso martinis are a classic cocktail made with vodka, freshly brewed espresso, coffe liqueur, and a simple siyrup
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Course: Cocktails
Keyword: espresso, Martini


  • 2 oz. Titos® Vodka
  • 1 oz. espresso freshly brewed
  • ¾ oz. Khalua® coffee liqueur or Irish cream
  • ¼ to ½ oz. simple syrup (optional)
  • 3 espresso beans for garnish


  • Brew one ounce of fresh espresso, and add it to a cocktail shaker.
  • Add the vodka, coffee liqueur (or Irish cream,) and simple syrup to the shaker. Place the shaker in a fridge until chilled.
  • Once the liquids have chilled, add a ½ cup of ice, and cover. Shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds.
  • Pour into a martini glass, and top with three espresso beans before serving.

How to Make Simple Syrup

If you don’t have simple syrup on hand and wish to avoid a trip to the store, chances are you’re in luck! A simple syrup contains only two ingredients: sugar and water! To make simple syrup, the steps are straightforward.

  1. In a small sauce pot, add equal amounts of water and sugar. 
  2. Heat the syrup over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Once the sugar melts, remove the syrup from heat and allow it to cool fully. 
  4. Transfer the simple syrup to an air-tight container and store it in the fridge

Simple syrup can be refrigerated for up to a month if stored in an air-tight container. While popular in cocktails, simple syrup can sweeten coffee, tea, and other drinks. It can even drizzle over desserts as decorative glazing!    


Create Your Own Twist on Bradsell's Espresso Martini

One of my favorite aspects of cocktail creation is building layers of flavor. If you create your twist on an espresso martini, modifying the ingredients creates your signature version. First, espresso is a dominant flavor, so experiment with blends to find your favorite brew. The next dominant flavor is the liqueur used. Try using liqueurs flavored with coffee, Irish cream, maple, and even butterscotch! The same flavor boldness applies to the syrup used. You can keep it simple or try adding flavored syrups like hazelnut and caramel. How will you recreate Bradsell’s classic espresso martini? 

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