Affogato Martini

This holiday season, give your Espresso Martini a makeover.

Affogato Martini

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Lucy Simon

Cook Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
5 mins

The Espresso Martini, which has in recent years gone from obsolete to obsession, is typically made with just three ingredients: espresso, vodka, and coffee liqueur, plus simple syrup for some sweetness and espresso beans on top if you’re feeling fancy. But at the newly opened Maialino (vicino) in New York City from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, the classic cocktail gets a makeover. Patrick Smith, Manager of Bar Openings across USHG, wanted to reconceptualize the drink, tilting it further into dessert territory with the addition of one very special ingredient: gelato. You can taste the Affogato Martini at both Maialino (vicino) and Maialino (vino), the walk-ins-only wine bar next door to the trattoria. Can’t make it to New York City? You can also make the drink at home by following Maialino’s recipe, below.

For this glitzed-up version of an Espresso Martini, vodka haters will be delighted and surprised to know that rum is the spirit in the spotlight. Vodka brings alcohol to this boozy beverage but not much else; it’s basically a whiteboard to reflect the dominant coffee flavor. But rum not only stands up to the espresso, it adds to it, offering a warming sensation on the palate along with notes of vanilla. The Maialino team recommends Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Blend Single Traditional Blended Rum, which brings a bittersweet nuttiness to the drink, but any good rum will do.

For the coffee liqueur, the Maialino team likes Mr. Black, which has a rich flavor and just the right amount of sweetness. A splash of cherry liqueur offsets the liqueur’s bitterness and adds an unexpected fruity twist. And then there’s the pièce de résistance, the one simple element that elevates this cocktail from ordinary drink to decadent dessert: a scoop of gelato. Maialino opts for vanilla, but you could get creative with coffee, salted caramel, or even cherry gelato to play off of the Mr. Black. Add a maraschino cherry on top and you have a fun, festive take on the ‘tini that’s easy to make and even easier to drink.

When it comes to serving the Affogato Martini at home, Cory Holt, Beverage Director for Maialino, recommends pre-scooping the gelato, setting each scoop into the glass that you’re serving the drink in, and freezing the prepared glasses for a minimum of ten minutes prior to drinking. The gelato freezes to the bottom of the glass, staying anchored once you pour the drink overtop rather than floating or melting into the liquid. “You want to build the drink, shake it, and the last thing you want to do is pull out the glasses [from the freezer] and very quickly pour the frothy espresso martini over the gelato,” Holt said. The layering lends itself to an eye-catching ombré: bright white gelato, dark brown espresso, and tan foam at the top.

Holt’s other piece of advice for the Affogato Martini: “Fresh espresso is definitely the move.” Though the real stuff holds up better against the rum and cherry liqueur, it’s not the end of the world if you have to resort to instant espresso or even an espresso concentrate.

No matter what kind of espresso you use, the gelato makes this cocktail extra forgiving. Holt said, “It should be bracingly bitter and then you get in there with a spoon and take a bite of ice cream soaked in coffee, and that softens it.” This drink is meant to be playful, so have fun with it. Adjust proportions based on personal taste, and if that means adding a second scoop of gelato, ‘tis the season.


  • 1/2 ounce Rapa Giovanni Cherry

  • 3/4 ounce Mr. Black

  • 3/4 ounce espresso

  • 1 ounce Appleton Estate 12 Year Rum

  • 1 scoop vanilla gelato

  • 1 Luxardo cherry


  1. Add all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker. Shake and fine strain over a fresh scoop of gelato

  2. Garnish with Luxardo Cherry speared into gelato, and serve with a spoon

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