A velvety, aromatic drink topped with an iconic creamy foam head, the espresso martini has been delighting coffee lovers since its creation in the 1980s. Comprising just a few simple yet high-quality ingredients, this drink is the perfect pick-me-up after a long day.
During the past few years, the espresso martini has skyrocketed in popularity, becoming one of the top-selling cocktails in America. And what’s not love? This drink combines high-end coffee culture with the cocktail experience and, as an added benefit, looks sleek and impressive when served.
But what goes into making the perfect espresso martini cocktail? There is certainly no shortage of espresso martini recipes on the internet, and recent trends have led to a great deal of experimentation with ingredients and flavors.
For those looking for the ultimate espresso martini recipe, the secret is just as much about technique as it is about ingredients. While achieving a perfectly balanced, foam-topped cocktail might seem challenging, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a bar-quality cocktail at home.
In fact, certain ready-to-drink cocktail brands have redefined the quality standards for canned cocktails, making it more effortless than ever before to taste a perfectly balanced drink. Whether you’re looking to try blending your own espresso martini or source an exceptional quality RTD variety, this guide will reveal all the tips and tricks you’ll need.
The Steps to Crafting the Perfect Espresso Martini
The espresso martini’s uniquely appealing flavor profile and mouthfeel are a result of perfectly balanced, high-quality ingredients and a professional mixing technique. While award-winning RTD cocktail brands have tackled this process for you, you might be in the mood for experimenting on your own or simply wondering how this cocktail is created. If you’re considering perking up your evening by making this elegant cocktail yourself, your first step is to gather some tools.
Equipment You’ll Need
- A Hawthorne strainer
- A cocktail shaker
- Martini or coupe glasses
- Espresso machine
Using the appropriate tools has a big impact on the quality of your cocktails. For the espresso martini, a Hawthorne strainer is best. It will fit snugly over your shaker and ensure ice chips don’t transfer into your finished drink. However, if you don’t have a Hawthorne strainer, you can certainly use a different type.
Of course, the type of glass you choose is also important. A martini glass is ideal, but a coupe glass can also be used. The key characteristic you’re looking for is a wide mouth that will show off your cocktail’s thick layer of creamy foam.
Finally, since this is a coffee-based drink, you’ll need access to high-quality coffee. An espresso machine capable of pulling shots with a nice crema is ideal. If you don’t have access to this, don’t worry—there are some tasty substitute options for you that we’ll discuss in a minute.
The delicate balance of flavors present in a perfectly crafted cocktail is virtually impossible to achieve using low-quality ingredients. Luckily, there are just a few items you’ll need for creating this recipe:
- 3/4 oz. coffee liqueur
- 1 2/3 oz. vodka
- 1 oz. freshly brewed espresso or cold brew
- Ice cubes
- A pinch of salt
- 3 whole coffee beans, for garnish
First, let’s talk about the key ingredient here: the coffee. Of course, using good-quality coffee is absolutely essential for this recipe. Poor-quality coffee can be overly bitter and negatively affect the other flavors in the drink. In addition, espresso’s golden layer of crema helps to achieve the right mouthfeel in the finished cocktail.
After you’ve pulled your espresso shot, it’s a good idea to chill it slightly before adding it to your shaker. If you add a freshly pulled shot, the espresso’s hot temperature will quickly melt the ice and result in a watery, unsatisfying cocktail. Chilling your espresso in the refrigerator or freezer for a minute before adding it to your shaker can make a big difference. It’s also ideal to chill your cocktail glass at this same time to help the foam in your finished drink last longer.
If you don’t have access to high-quality espresso, an excellent alternative is cold brew coffee. Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold or room-temperature water for at least 12 hours. During this time, the coffee beans slowly release their oils and flavors, resulting in a potent infusion featuring a bolder flavor than, say, iced coffee. Cold brew also has more caffeine than iced coffee, giving your martini an extra punch.
Now we’ve discussed the tools and ingredients you’ll need and you’ve begun chilling your cocktail glass, we’re ready to reveal some expert mixing techniques. Begin by adding a generous amount of ice to your cocktail shaker, followed by the coffee liqueur, vodka, and chilled espresso or cold brew. At this time, you might consider adding a pinch of salt. A small amount will help eliminate any bitterness from the espresso and bring out the drink’s other flavors without tasting salty.
Next, vigorously shake this mixture for at least 20 seconds. A good technique is to turn your shaker horizontally and shake it up and down. This position keeps as much surface area as possible between your ice and cocktail, resulting in a better chilled and mixed drink. When you’ve mixed it thoroughly, you’ll be able to see that the outside of your shaker is frosty. This step is crucial because the shaking not only chills your drink but creates the iconic thick layer of foam.
When you’re done, use your Hawthorne strainer to pour the drink into your pre-chilled glass. It might take a bit of extra effort to ensure every delicious drop of foam has been shaken off, but it’s well worth it.
Congratulations! Your mixed cocktail has been poured, but it’s not quite finished yet. There is a wide array of garnish possibilities for this beverage, from traditional to unique and highly creative. A traditional espresso martini is garnished with three delicately placed coffee beans. You might also want to try dusting half of your glass with sifted cocoa powder, or even espresso powder.
A recent trend you might have heard about is garnishing with parmesan cheese. This surprising ingredient is said to add just the right amount of salt to the drink, bringing out its layered flavors so that they can shine more brightly. If you’re daring enough to experiment, just a small amount of Parmigiano Reggiano grated along a microplane on top of your finished beverage is all that’s needed here.
The Secret to Flavor Balance
For any cocktail, pairing interesting flavor profiles in the right proportion is crucial. For espresso martinis, the coffee and alcohol flavors need to be equally balanced so that none overpowers the other. One tip for achieving this is to find a coffee liqueur with sweeter notes that can balance out any bitterness in the coffee. You’ll also want to be sure to use the right amounts of quality vodka and liqueur.
The quantities listed in our recipe are just right for achieving a rich and smooth flavor. When selecting coffee for this cocktail, you’ll want dark-roasted, fresh beans. We recommend 100% arabica beans for achieving the best flavor profile.
Experimenting on Your Search for the Perfect Cocktail
Mixing up an excellent cocktail can certainly be challenging. From obtaining professional tools to precisely measuring quality ingredients, there are a lot of factors to consider. It can be fun to play around with ingredients and practice improving your technique. In fact, according to the drink’s creator, Dick Bradsell, the espresso martini is “a cocktail made to be modified.”
When you drink cocktails from home, you’re free to experiment with flavors and ingredients until you achieve a personalized result. Here are three ideas to shake up the taste of your homemade espresso martini if you fancy a fun twist on the classic cocktail:
- Want it sweeter? Add simple syrup
- For a richer and more creamy drink, add 1/2 oz. of Baileys Irish Cream
- Try adding smoked salt to increase the flavor complexity
You can also try out all of these ideas with a canned cocktail. An RTD espresso martini provides a quality base that’s simple to personalize and guaranteed to taste great.
How to Enjoy a Hassle-Free Espresso Martini
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the equipment, quality ingredients, and professional technique involved in making great espresso martinis, you don’t have to worry. There are many occasions when you just want to enjoy a great-tasting drink, without all the effort and this is where canned cocktails save the day.
Whether you’re entertaining and don’t want to focus all of your attention on mixing drinks, or you’d just like to put your feet up and relax, opting for a canned cocktail can be the perfect solution.
Today’s canned cocktails are expertly blended, award-winning drinks that deliver the right taste, every time. They allow you to savor a bar-quality espresso martini effortlessly, even if you couldn’t make a great cup of coffee to save your life.
Thanks to industry innovators, today’s ready-to-drink cocktails are made without any compromises on quality or taste. How can you recognize a good brand? Look for the following characteristics:
- 100% arabica beans, widely regarded as the highest quality coffee bean variety
- Crafted in small batches
- 100 ml cans, the correct cocktail size
- Traditional ingredients: Cold brew, vodka, and coffee liqueur
- Winner of national and international spirits competition awards
Invite more relaxation into your life with a quality ready-to-drink espresso martini and have fun personalizing it with your own creative garnishes. When you need simplicity and guaranteed quality, canned cocktails are the perfect solution.
Enjoy an Effortless Espresso Martini at Home With RTD Cocktails
Ready-to-drink cocktails were created for the days you don’t feel like being your own bartender. At Post Meridiem, we’re passionate about making bar-quality cocktails easier to enjoy, with no flavor compromises. In fact, our espresso martini won “Best in Class” for the Classic RTD Cocktail category in 2022’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
We craft our beverages in small batches, from properly portioned, 100% real ingredients for an authentic, full-proof cocktail. Enjoy mixing your own cocktails when you feel like it, and when you feel like taking it easy, give our perfectly balanced RTD cocktails a try. You can browse our online shop to discover the cocktails we offer or find us at a liquor retailer near you.