Espresso Martini

March 15th marks Espresso Martini Day.

Now, to be clear, this cocktail isn’t a genuine Martini. Strictly speaking, a Martini comprises gin (or, if you’re not too particular, vodka), vermouth, and possibly other ingredients. However, the Espresso Martini contains neither gin nor vermouth. In fact, its creator, Dick Bradsell, initially named it the Vodka Espresso, a name that accurately reflects its ingredients.

Yet, in the 1990s, during the resurgence of classic straight-up cocktails, a new cocktail category emerged, known as Neo-Martini. These drinks were often vodka-based and served in V-shaped cocktail glasses, often called “martini glasses.” People fell in love with the presentation, the word ‘martini,’ and cocktails centered around vodka. This new family borrowed the name of the classic Martini but not its composition.

Customer preferences can’t be ignored completely, so since 1997, when Dick Bradsell worked at London’s Match Bar, this cocktail has been served in martini glasses and referred to as the Espresso Martini.

Bradsell also gave the cocktail its third name: Pharmaceutical Stimulant, possibly a nod to its energizing effects. According to Bradsell, he created this cocktail for a “top model” who walked into the bar and asked for “Something that’s gonna wake me up, then fuck me up”. With the coffee maker nearby and vodka being a popular ingredient, he didn’t hesitate.

The Espresso Martini quickly gained popularity and found its place on the IBA cocktail list in the New Era Drinks category.

The classic Espresso Martini recipe, according to IBA.

-1 2/3 oz / 50 ml Vodka
-1 oz / 30 ml Coffee Liqueur
-1/3 oz / 10 ml Simple Syrup
-1 espresso

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

Garnish – three coffee beans

Cocktail glass

This cocktail is often enjoyed as a digestive.

Of course, many variations of the Espresso Martini have emerged over time. In Simon Difford’s Guide, I found a Chocolate Orange Espresso Martini featuring Orange Vodka and Chocolate liqueur in addition to the Coffee liqueur. I adore the combination of dark chocolate and orange, so I created a similar version, using regular vodka instead of orange vodka and incorporating the orange flavor with Grand Marnier.

Here’s my take on the Chocolate Orange Espresso Martini.

-1 1/2 oz / 45 ml Vodka
-1/2 oz / 15 ml Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua in my case)
-1/2 oz / 15 ml dark creme de cacao
-1/2 oz / 15 ml Grand Mariner
-1 oz / 30 мл fresh coffee

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

This is a delightful dessert cocktail.

It goes without saying that to make a great cocktail, all the ingredients should be of high quality. Ensure your coffee is fresh and excellent, and your vodka should be top-notch.

I don’t have a coffee machine because I am not an espresso lover. I prefer Turkish coffee, and I use it for my cocktails. So, formally, my cocktail is Coffee Martini, not Espresso Martini. That doesn’t make it less tasty.

Now, if you’re a coffee lover, today is the perfect day to savor an Espresso Martini!

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