Espresso Martini


This recipe from Simon Sebbah, beverage director at NYC's American Bar, gets you a perfectly frothy, caffeinated cocktail every time.

Espresso Martini

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Oset Babür-Winter

Total Time:
5 mins

While it’s clear to anyone who’s stepped foot inside of a bar or restaurant lately that creative takes — from adding pasta water to MSG — on the tried-and-true Martini are especially popular, few riffs are as ubiquitous as the caffeinated take on the classic. At New York City’s American Bar, a spot that’s rapidly turned into such a scene that ordering some kind of Martini feels almost mandatory, there’s a $55 status symbol Espresso Martini that calls for Classe Azul reposado tequila, coffee liquor, and espresso. It’s fun and all, but the standard version (for less than half of the price) is my personal go-to.

Using a shot of room temperature espresso — it’s important not to add coffee straight from the machine, as the heat will dilute the ice and other ingredients once added to the shaker — Mr. Black coffee liqueur, and Grey Goose vodka, American Bar’s beverage director Simon Sebbah stays true to the classic tenants of an Espresso Martini. He achieves a truly noteworthy froth, however, by employing a hard shake that gives the drink euphoria-inducing, cloud-like aeration. While Kahlua is a classic coffee liqueur to use in this cocktail, its relatively higher sugar content and rum-base makes it a slightly saccharine alternative to Mr. Black, which is vodka-based and unsweetened; both are Arabica coffee-based. Bailey’s Irish Cream is another popular addition to the drink, but similarly adds sweetness that can easily push the Espresso Martini into dessert cocktail territory. As someone who prefers to enjoy this drink before dinner on a big night out, I prefer the less-sweet take at American Bar, but you do you.

Looking to make a truly stellar Espresso Martini without an espresso machine? Cold brew concentrate is a great substitute, especially if you’re looking for an extra kick of caffeine. Be sure to chill your coupe glass — just a few minutes in the freezer should do the trick — before straining the drink from the shaker, and don’t forget to garnish with three or four espresso beans. The latter isn’t necessary, but it adds to the overall feeling of opulence — and isn’t that really what an Espresso Martini is all about?  


Espresso Martini

  • 2 ounces vodka (such as Grey Goose)

  • 1 ounce Mr. Black

  • 1 ounce room temperature espresso

  • 3 coffee beans


  1. Combine vodka, Mr. Black, and espresso in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Cover and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.

  2. Pour mixture into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with espresso beans.

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