Espresso Martinis are kind of my party trick. I love making them almost as much as I do drinking them (almost).
I love all manner of cocktails. Anyone can pour a glass of wine or crack open a beer, but there’s just something festive and exciting about cocktails. Not to mention the often pretty steep alcohol content to get you in a partying mood.
And my absolute favourite cocktail of all is an Espresso Martini.
I think of it like the grown up version of vodka and redbull. Remember, back in those days of going out clubbing or something equally exhausting and needing a quick caffeine pick me up coupled with an alcoholic buzz. Espresso Martini provides both of those things, but they’re classy, and also won’t make your teeth feel like they’re going to fall out from the sugar overload.
KISS – Keep it Simple Silly
All you need for an Espresso Martini is espresso coffee, vodka and coffee liqueur. You could in theory add Creme de Cacao, you could switch out the vodka for another clear spirit, use vanilla Vodka, or you could add sugar syrup if you’re so inclined, but really it doesn’t have to be that hard.
1 part Vodka. 1 part Espresso. 1 part Coffee Liqueur. A handful of ice. Give it a good shake. Done.
I have played around with different ratios. But this classic, simple, straightforward recipe is where I keep coming back to.
However, when a recipe is super simple, is when it’s really important to make sure each ingredient does it’s job well. You also need to use the right equipment.
Start The Right Tools
I think you really do need to get yourself set up with a simple shaker set. Ideally one that come with a shaker, double jigger (for measuring) and strainer. I have this one from Dan Murphy’s, it’s affordable and does the job nicely!
Choosing The Best Glass
I suppose you can use any glass, but it’s just not as much fun. You want your homemade Espresso Martini to LOOK like an Espresso Martini that you would buy at a nice bar.
While using a traditional martini glass is the most obvious choice, I’d suggest a Champagne Coupe if you have them available. We bought ours from Ikea and they are a very versatile glass. The benefits of the Champagne Coupe over a Martini Glass is they’re deeper, so you’re less likely to spill it (And you can fit a double serve into it, if you’re so inclined.)
If you’re stuck for options, a white wine glass is okay as a last resort. Just please don’t put it into a regular glass. At that point you may as well forget the whole exercise and make yourself a Black Russian and be done with it.
You really want to use real coffee. And by real coffee I mean coffee that has recently resembled a bean (ie. Please don’t use instant coffee. If this is your only option, again, I’d urge you to forget the whole thing and make something else).
If you have an espresso coffee machine – amazing. I personally use my stove top espresso marker. I have also used a coffee plunger with a very strong dose of ground coffee, which works okay.
Speaking on strength, how strong you want to make your coffee is a personal preference. I tend to make my espresso shot a little bit on the weaker side, but you can go as hard as you want.
For example with my stove top espresso maker I use:
- 120ml of water
- 14g of coffee grounds
So essentially 3 shots worth of water, with 2 shots worth of coffee. So it comes out as a slightly weaker coffee shot.
It seems like Kahlua is the most popular brand of coffee liqueur and most recommended in recipes for Espresso Martini. I have a preference for Tia Maria, it’s not as sweet and syrupy as Kahlua, and has a little more flavour. I know other people swear by Mr Black, but I find the alcohol and intense coffee flavour too strong to mix with an Espresso Martini. Don’t get me wrong, Mr Black is great on it’s own. It’s just a bit too much for me.
Whatever you do DO NOT use Kaffe Arabika – it’s an insult to both coffee and alcohol.
The vodka isn’t really contributing much to the overall flavour of the Espresso Martini, it’s just there for a kick. So as long as you choose something that doesn’t taste like petrol you can’t really go wrong here. But I am open to debate on this. I don’t have strong opinions on Vodka in general. I either use Russian Standard Vodka if it’s on sale somewhere, or I just buy Vodka from Aldi. (Speaking of Aldi and alcohol – check out my Aldi Sparkling Wine Review. )
- Throw a good handful of ice into the shaker, and optional – but you should do it anyway – fill the serving glass with ice as well to chill.
- Pour in the 3 equal measures of coffee, liqueur and vodka (one 30ml shot each is a good size per serve).
- Slap the top of the shaker on and shake vigorously. This should be a bit of a work out. You’re aiming to shake it long enough that the metal parts of the shaker get frosty – then shake it a bit more for good measure.
- Tip the ice out of the serving glass, top off the shaker, and strain into a glass. If you’re shaken it hard and long enough it should come out looking sort of milky. But at the bubbles rise the liquid will darken and the glorious foam will form on the surface.
- If you have whole coffee beans available, go ahead and pop 3 of them on the foam. It adds nothing to the flavour, but it really does make the visual experience magical.