Espresso Martini: How To Make The Ultimate Cocktail

Find out how to make one of the tastiest cocktails, the espresso martini, with our ultimate guide including essential ingredients and bartender secrets.

Espresso Martini: How To Make The Ultimate Cocktail

After a long day in the office, or serving the public, it’s near enough impossible to have enough energy for an evening out. Step in the espresso martini. This drink packs a much-needed punch of caffeine and tastes pretty great, too. Read on to discover the espresso martini, how to make it, the equipment you’ll need and a little bit of background info on this delicious drink.

The History of the Espresso Martini

The Espresso Martini is said to have originated in London’s trendy Soho area during the 1980s when cocktail maker Dick Bradsell made a bespoke cocktail for a famous model. After a busy day, the model was said to have asked for a drink which would wake her up.

Dick had a coffee machine situated next to the bar, so he decided to mix an espresso with some vodka, sugar syrup and two types of coffee liqueur, originally naming it the vodka espresso. During this particular time, any cocktail served in a V-shaped glass was called a martini, so the drink was then renamed the espresso martini.

To make your own, here’s what to buy.

What You’ll Need:

  • 100 g golden caster sugar
  • Ice
  • 100 ml vodka
  • 50 ml freshly brewed espresso coffee
  • 50 ml coffee liqueur, like Kahlua
  • Coffee beans (for garnish)


  • Espresso maker
  • Ice cube tray
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Spirit measure
  • Cocktail strainer
  • Cocktail glasses

Before You Begin…

Make sure to prepare the ice ahead of time. It typically takes about six hours for ice cubes to freeze and espresso martinis are best served cold. We’d also recommend chilling your martini glasses in the fridge for three to four hours. If you're short on time and need chilled glasses ASAP, pack your glasses to the top with ice and then fill with cold water – they'll chill while you make your cocktails.

While you wait for your ice and chilled glasses, you can make up a batch of sugar syrup using the golden caster sugar.

Sugar Syrup Recipe

To make the sugar syrup, simply combine the caster sugar with 50 ml of water, then pour it into a saucepan on a medium heat. Stir constantly as you wait for the syrup to boil. Once it boils, turn off the heat and allow to cool. The sugar syrup can also be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight (preferably glass) container.

Making Your Cocktail

Prepare the espresso following the directions included in your espresso maker.

  1. Pour 1 tbsp of sugar syrup into the cocktail shaker.
  2. Add a handful of ice.
  3. Measure 100 ml vodka and 50 ml of coffee liqueur using the spirit measurer. Pour into the cocktail shaker.
  4. Add 50 ml of the freshly brewed espresso coffee.
  5. Put the lid on the cocktail shaker and then shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is ice cold.
  6. Strain into the chilled cocktail glasses.
  7. Garnish with a coffee bean.
  8. Sit back and enjoy.

Bartender Secrets

We spoke to cocktail veterans Debbie Lee-Young and Gavin Anderson from Edinburgh cocktail bar and restaurant, Under the Stairs, awarded Tiplist status in The List magazine for "Best places for cocktails in Edinburgh". They had a few Espresso Martini tips to share:

  • Use a quality golden rum such as El Dorado instead of vodka for a more flavoursome Espresso Martini.
  • A little splash (5 ml) of Disaronno Amaretto can take your drink to the next level.

Bourbon fan? You can use your fave tipple instead of vodka as well.