With so many of us becoming self-taught mixologists during lockdown, it’s not surprising that searches for cocktails have gone through the roof. Yet there’s one drink that stands head and shoulders above the rest, and that is the espresso martini. Not to be taken lightly, this drink delivers a one-two punch of caffeine and alcohol to make sure you are both happy and capable of dancing all night long. But how do you make an espresso martini at home? Read on to find out.
What is an espresso martini?
With its recent surge in popularity, you’d think that the espresso martini is a new invention. Yet it has actually been around since the 1980s - it’s practically a millennial.
As with all good stories, its creation is shrouded in mystery. Rumour has it that a well-known supermodel of the day walked into a London bar and asked for something to ‘wake her up, then f*** her up.’ Luckily the bartender was Dick Bradsell (who would go on to lead the cocktail revolution working at top bars such as Grouchos, The Zanzibar and Damien Hirst’s Pharmacy - to name a very few), who thought nothing of creating a cocktail legend by mixing some old coffee grounds with vodka and liqueur.
It enjoyed a long heyday in the 90s, a time when pretty much any flavour could be turned into a ‘tini,’ and everyone who was anyone cited an espresso martini as their drink of choice. This was at a time that saw a rise in both coffee drinking (thanks to Seattle for Frasier and Starbucks!) and cocktail drinking, which at that point was more Del Boy than debonaire, and distinctly at home in the past.
Now everyone wanted to be one of the Sex and the City girls or as cool as a Britpop star, and combining the two fads in a ubiquitous V-shaped martini glass allowed the everyday worker todo just that. It has travelled far and wide since, circumnavigating the globe and ending up as the most ordered cocktail in Australia.
After a long hiatus, the espresso martini is back, thanks in no small part to the pandemic. The drink has been growing in popularity since the first lockdown in 2020, acting as a naughty iced latte at a time when both coffee shops and bars were closed. Maybe it was a way of the public dealing with a period that called for both coffee and alcohol, but in a more discerning way than a Jägerbomb could ever deliver. Or maybe it was just that nostalgia can be a comfort in times of need.
Such is its popularity now that you can find premixed espresso martinis on supermarket shelves, to shove in the basket next to your shampoo and bread. But really, you don’t want something that has been on the shelf for god knows how long!
It is no accident that espresso martinis are most popular in places that have access to good coffee. The key to a really good espresso martini lies in using quality ingredients, so without further ado, let’s take a look at how to make your own fresh espresso martini at home. Be warned: the mixture of depressant and stimulant can have a rather overpowering effect, but wow is it delicious.
How to make an espresso martini:
While today’s espresso martini is more likely to be served in an instagrammable coupe glass, rather than a martini V (they aren’t true martinis anyway), the recipe is still essentially the same as it ever was.
To make a show-stopping espresso martini at home, you will need:
- 1 or 2 shots of espresso (or cold coffee concentrate; see recipe below)
- 2 shots vodka
- 10ml simple syrup, vanilla syrup or sugar
- 1 shot of coffee liqueur - our very own made by the Coffee Bean Shop
- Fresh coffee beans to garnish
- Cocktail shaker (or jar with a secure lid)
- Strainer (if not built into the shaker)
- Glasses to serve
- This is one of the easiest cocktails to make. Simply add all of the ingredients (minus the coffee bean garnish) into a cocktail shaker full of ice and shake like crazy. Shake it like you mean it! You are trying to create a substantial foam, so really go for it. Believe us: the aching arms will be worth it.
- Serve in a pretty glass through a strainer, and place the coffee beans artfully on top.
- Serve cold immediately.
How to make an espresso martini frothy
While most of the froth will come from the act of shaking the ingredients (you are pushing air into the mix), there are a few tips that could help you build a substantial foam that will hold the coffee beans on top without them falling through:
- Sugar is your friend. As with anything that involves whipping, sugar helps give foam its stability, so if you don’t mind the sweetness, don’t skip the syrup in the recipe. If you don’t like too much sweetness, add a bit more of the coffee liqueur, which also contains sugar.
- Shake as much as you can! 20-30 seconds is a good ballpark figure. You want the natural oils in the coffee to interact with the air to create that sought-after foam.
- Try to avoid dilution, as water will destroy the hard work you’ve put in. You can prevent this in two ways: work quickly so that the ice cubes don’t have time to dissolve, and prepare the espresso beforehand and allow it to cool. This will limit the level of dilution of the other ingredients, and will help the drink stay cold. Don’t worry about the shot becoming bitter: the sugar and the other ingredients will do a good job masking this, leaving just a lovely coffee taste mixed with booze.
- Right before pouring, swirl the mixture to incorporate all the bubbles into a uniform mixture, then pour the cocktail immediately. Don’t let it sit, as this is when the mixture and air will begin separating.
- Ice the glasses beforehand to keep the foam holding on for longer.
- If preparing more than one drink at once, fill each glass half full first, then top up so that one doesn't get all the foam and the other nothing.
Cold brew coffee espresso martini
Another alternative for the classic espresso martini, the cold brew coffee espresso martini is a good option if you are having a party or making quite a few, don't want to pull multiple shots of espresso over and again, or if you simply don’t have access to an espresso machine.
A cold brew coffee espresso martini is essentially created using a concentrate of pre-prepared coffee that can be kept in the fridge and used for a long period of time, or in the freezer for even longer. An added benefit is that it doesn't always need the freshest coffee beans, making it perfect for leftover beans that are a little past their best.
Cold brew coffee concentrate is always a good thing to have already prepared, especially when creating iced coffee drinks or as a base for caffeinated drinks when you don't have a brewer or machine close to hand.
How to make cold brew coffee for espresso martinis
You will need:
- 170g coarse ground coffee beans
- 830ml cold water
- Sieve or colander with small holes
- A container large enough to place these in, with room for stirring
- A jug to store the cold coffee in the fridge
- A clean towel
- Coffee filters
- Place the coffee grounds into the container and put half the water in, ensuring that all of the grinds are wet. Stir gently.
- Pour in the rest of the water and cover with a towel. Leave to sit for 12 hours or overnight away from heat or moisture (most work surfaces will be fine, just not next to the hob).
- Once the time has elapsed, cover a fine mesh sieve with a cheesecloth or something similar. It doesn't matter too much what you use, as long as it is fine enough to catch the coffee grounds. We’ve known people to use a pair of tights in the past!
- Pour the coffee through the sieve, collecting the coffee in the cheesecloth, before discarding.
- Clean out the sieve, place a regular coffee filter in it, and place it on a jug to catch the final coffee.
- Pour the coffee liquid from the first sieve onto the filter.
- Allow it to drip through of its own accord - don't push or apply pressure. This can take up to an hour.
- Voila: your own cold coffee concentrate, ready to be used in the place of espresso shots in all sorts of wonderful drinks.
- Store in the fridge and use within a fortnight!
Pro tips for making espresso martinis
- For those watching their caffeine intake, espresso martinis work just as well with decaffeinated coffee beans.
- For an elevated drinking experience, try adding some chocolate bitters to your espresso martini. With just a few drops you’ll get an almost savoury depth that works well for bringing out the coffee taste.
So now you know how to make an espresso martini at home, how to make it extra frothy, and even how to make an espresso martini with cold brew. Now you can live your dreams of drinking them like a 90’s Britpop star whenever you wish.
To ensure your homemade espresso martinis are the absolute best, make sure that the coffee beans you use are the freshest and best coffee beans, such as those we select here at the Coffee Bean Shop. We sell them whole or ground to whichever grind level you need for your chosen brewing method - simply use the drop-down selection when ordering.
As always, get in touch if you need any more advice. We can also go a step further and remove the guesswork with our espresso martini hamper!