The Perfect Espresso Martini - How to make the best coffee cocktail.
I'd be lying if I didn't say that two of my favourite things in life are coffee & booze. They go so perfectly together.. Drink coffee to stay awake until its time to drink booze, then require coffee again the next morning. The circle continues and before you know it, you're an alcoholic. I, somewhat, joke.
If your work week is fuelled by coffee and you’re partial to a little tipple on a Friday evening, as a small reward for successfully completing another week, you've probably already come across the infamous Espresso Martini. In the same way your morning coffee helps fuel your work day, the Espresso Martini is the perfect little evening pick me up to extend your night from out, to out out.
In terms of the ingredient list, the Espresso Martini is one of the easiest cocktails to make. However, it haunts bartenders up and down the country as it's one of the most ordered, and most time consuming, drinks to prepare due to the added step of needing to brew a fresh shot of espresso for every glass. The fresh shot of espresso is a really important element of the 'perfect' espresso martini, not just for its beautiful freshly brewed coffee taste, but for it’s foamy creama, which helps build the foam layer found on the top of an espresso martini, which is usually garnished with 3 whole coffee beans.
You'll be pleased to hear that this delicious, creamy cocktail can be easily made at home with basic coffee making and cocktail equipment. Get ready to impress all your friends at your next house party as we learn how to make a better espresso martini that you'd get from your local mixologist.
Best Espresso Martini Ingredients
As with most fancy recipes you find on the internet, the most important element of the best espresso martini recipe is the ingredients. Picking the best, quality ingredients will lead to the best espresso martini you've ever tasted, so let's break them down.
Since we're a coffee roaster, and the drink literally has the word espresso in its name, it only seems fitting that we lead with espresso as the first, and most important ingredient. The best way to get the best taste and mouthfeel from an espresso martini is to use a freshly brewed espresso, using freshly roasted arabica beans.
As is the case throughout Recent Beans, we believe your espresso should be made from 100% freshly roasted arabica, to a medium level for those awesome sweet flavour notes. Our preferred coffee for the Espresso Martini is the Brazil Santos Sweet Cup. By using freshly roasted and freshly brewed coffee, the espresso is still degassing, which creates that awesome creama on the espresso, leading to a beautiful, thick foam on the Espresso Martini.
If you don't have an espresso machine - You can still make espresso strength coffee through more traditional methods and we've seen some excellent espresso martinis made with a stovetop, aeropress or even overloading a french press. Another way to attack the espresso martini without an espresso machine is to use espresso strength cold brew coffee. This just takes a little more shaking (and a secret ingredient below) to create that beautiful foam.
In our eyes, there's only one real option here and that's the Recent Beans Coffee Liqueur. A Waterton’s Reserve Liqueur carved from single origin, Brazilian Ipanema Yellow Bourbon coffee beans, the finest Yorkshire Spring Water & British Wheat Spirit. Crafted in very, very small batches in a traditional alembic copper pot still at the heart of Yorkshire's Old West Riding.
For honesty's sake, we should mention that other popular coffee liqueurs are available and the premium brands can be used to make an awesome espresso martini.
We opt for a flavourless vodka for this recipe, adding the flavour using a William Fox vanilla syrup. If you don't have vanilla syrup to hand but do have Vanilla vodka, you'll find the results to be acceptable. As with all the ingredients in this perfect espresso martini recipe, we recommend using a premium spirit for those smoother flavours. Our favourites being Waterton's Reserve Yorkshire Vodka, Black Cow Vodka or Ketel One Vodka.
If you're using an unflavoured vodka, which we think you should be, adding a touch of vanilla syrup will really bring out the sweet notes in the drink. We love William Fox colourless gomme syrups. Founded by two drinks enthusiasts looking to create the most exquisite tasting drinks possible found that there was one key ingredient missing, a high quality, preservative free, colourless Gomme syrup. What sets William Fox apart from the competition is the type of Acacia Gum used which gives the syrups the velvet texture that they now are so well known for.
The Top Secret Ingredient (Bare with us here)
I find myself looking over my shoulder as I type this, fearing that mixologists up and down the country will be outside my window with pitchforks and torches for sharing their well-kept trade secret. This secret helps you get that thick, delicious foam on the top of the best espresso martinis, which holds the 3 coffee bean garnish. We have two options, one a little more likely to have at home and one vegan option. So, for the perfect espresso martini we're going to add either egg white or Aquafaba (which is basically the juice found in a can of chickpeas) which will add in that meringue like thickness, without changing the flavours - Just trust us here.
How to make the best espresso martini
Now we know what we need, let's put it all together. Luckily, It’s all pretty straight forward.
Pre-Freeze the Glass
For the best results, grab your favourite coupe or martini glass and throw it in the freezer for half hour or so to chill.
Shaken, not stirred
It's time for your best Jimmy Bond impression here. Although some mixologists opt for a stirred espresso martini, we think that shaken is the best option. We tend to add the ingredients in the following order (for no real reason, it's just our workflow) Vodka, Liqueur, Syrup, Aquafaba then pull the espresso straight into the shaker. We then 'dry shake’ (shake without ice) for 10 seconds to mix the ingredients and cool the espresso a little. Add the ice then shake for a further 10-20 seconds.
When shaking, it's important to move the shaker up and down, as well as front to back to properly mix all the ingredients. I like to imagine theres a line in front of me at shoulder level. When mixing I push the mixer over the line in front of me, bring it back then push under the line.
As the recipe below makes two drinks, we have to share out the pouring to make sure that one drink doesn't get all that lovely foam at the end. Once you're happy with your shaking, pop a Hawthorne strainer (if you have one) on the end of your shaker. If you don't have a Hawthorne strainer, most cocktail shakers have some kind of strainer on the top or a standard sieve can be used. Some mixologists choose to look fancy by pouring through two strainers, but for this recipe with no fruit or solid ingredients, we think this is mostly just unneeded, added washing up.
Fill the first glass half way, then move onto to the second, again going to about half way. Once this base is poured, you'll start to see the foam coming through the strainer, evenly distribute the remainder of the mix between the 2 glasses, switching regularly. The last bits of foam take a while to come out, but it's certainly worth shaking every last drop out for that foamy top.
To finish, grab 3 whole coffee beans (per glass) out of your hopper or bag and carefully place into the middle of the foam in a pattern that pleases you.
Here’s the simplified recipe…
The Best Espresso Martini Recipe (Makes 2 - Martinis are better with company)
- 80ml (Just under 2 double shots measure) You favourite Vodka
- 100ml (2x Double Shot) Recent Beans Coffee Liqueur
- 18g Double Shot of Freshly Brewed Espresso (Creating approx 70ml of liquid espresso)
- 50ml (Single Shot) of William Fox Vanilla Syrup
- 1 egg white or double shot of Aquafaba/Chickpea juice
- Add vodka, liqueur, syrup and aquafaba to mixer
- Pull fresh espresso direct into mixer
- Dry Shake (shake without ice) for 10 seconds
- Add Ice and shake for a further 10-20 seconds
- Strain into Glass
- Garnish with 3 coffee beans
There we go.. The Recent Beans espresso martini. The perfect early evening pick me up! Don't forget to drink responsibly and don't do anything that we wouldn't do.