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Made with only 3 ingredients, this vodka espresso martini is a simple and elegant cocktail you can serve to guests or enjoy at home! Don’t forget the espresso beans for garnish!

I think it’s actually time that I start a whole category on the blog for vodka cocktails. They seem to be popular, plus they’re so fun and easy to make! Whenever we have people over, I like having a variety of options to offer them, but I don’t want too many ingredients involved. 3 ingredients is the perfect number! This vodka espresso martini has been popular with my guests lately! It’s been especially fun since we got a new Nespresso machine. It makes an excellent espresso, which is perfect for this drink!

vodka espresso martini

What is a vodka espresso martini?

Well, I should first explain to you what a martini is, in case that’s something new for you too! A classic martini is usually only made up of 2 ingredients; gin, vermouth and either an olive or sometimes a lemon peel. Not everyone loves the taste of gin though, hence the vodka martini was created!

A vodka espresso martini has a few different variations, depending on the mixologist. My version is extremely simple. You’ll need:

  • vodka
  • espresso
  • Kahlua

As simple as this ingredient list is, there are a few important notes to make about the ingredients:

  1. Vodka is pretty straightforward – use your favourite type of plain vodka in this recipe. Actually, I think a vanilla or maybe even coffee flavoured vodka could be really delicious in this!
  2. Espresso! I’ll give you a breakdown of using either chilled espresso, prepared ahead of time, or hot espresso. My preference is hot, and I’ll break down the reasons for that below. Either way, you’ll want a good quality espresso – one that is prepared with a foam on top (the crema)! This translates to a nice bit of foam on top of your espresso martini!
  3. Kahlua. I hope that you’ve heard of Kahlua before, but if not, let me tell you that you’re missing out! Kahlua is a dark, rich, coffee liqueur. It’s great in hot chocolate, over ice, or as an addition to any coffee-flavoured cocktail. It’s perfect in this recipe! You can 100% find it anywhere you will find alcohol sold in stores. If you can’t find Kahlua, you can use any other coffee flavoured liqueur.

Do you have to use chilled espresso?

This is probably going to create some debate, but after testing both chilled and freshly prepared espresso, I’ve landed on hot. This is because adding the hot espresso to a cocktail shaker filled with some ice will create a nice foamy top to the martini when you shake it. The hot espresso will melt the ice in the cocktail shaker (yes, this adds a bit of water to the drink, but it’s a nice addition)!

If you don’t like the idea of the extra water, you could also use a previously chilled espresso, then use the strainer part of your cocktail shaker to strain the drink away from the ice when you’re pouring. You may not have any foam on top of the espresso martini if you use the strainer, but perhaps you might prefer this! It’s totally up to you.

How do you make a vodka espresso martini?

The nice thing about using hot espresso vs chilled espresso, is that you can make one of these martinis whenever the mood strikes! You don’t have to have a store of chilled espresso in the fridge for it.

  1. Prepare the espresso. I use my Nespresso for this, but you can use whatever espresso machine you have. You might be tempted to use instant espresso, but I can guarantee you won’t have nearly the same result with your drink as you would with a proper espresso!
  2. In a cocktail shaker with 5-6 ice cubes, add the hot espresso, the Kahlua and the vodka. Close the lid and shake until you no longer hear the ice or until the outside of the shaker looks frosty and chilled.
  3. Remove the lid of the cocktail shaker and pour the drink into a martini glass. Top with a few espresso beans and serve!

*Note: If you use the straining function of your cocktail shaker, you might not get foam on top of your drink. If you’re ok with that, then you do not need to wait until the ice in the cocktail shaker has melted to pour the drink.

Could you use something other than vodka for this recipe?

Although I have a lot of vodka cocktails on my site, it’s not my favourite hard liquor. I actually like gin a lot more! I’ve tried this recipe with gin, as well as tequila and both were excellent; however, I would say vodka would be the best flavour to compliment the coffee taste.

You can absolutely experiment with other alcohol as well as using something other than Kahlua!

My martini doesn’t have the foam on top. What did I do wrong?

The foam is something that was important to me when testing this recipe! You certainly don’t need it to enjoy the drink, but it’s pretty, pleasant to sip, and it makes a nice sturdy top for the beans to sit on as a garnish!

There are a couple of reasons why the foam may not have worked out for you:

  1. Using an instant coffee or plain coffee instead of espresso. For this recipe you’ll want to make sure you use have a good quality espresso, which already has the crema on top when prepared.
  2. Not shaking the mixture enough in the cocktail shaker. Shaking the mixture, along with a couple of ice cubes until cold, will help ensure that nice layer of foam on top of the drink.
  3. Using the strainer on top of the cocktail shaker. The strainer often leaves the foam behind, which is why I like shaking the drink until the ice cubes are melted, and then pouring straight from the open top. If you do use the strainer, you could use a cocktail spoon to spoon the foam that was left behind on to the top of the glass.
vodka espresso martini

Can I use decaf espresso for an espresso martini?

Yes, absolutely! Our Nespresso machine actually has a great decaf pod which works perfect in this drink. Not everyone wants that caffeine buzz late in the evening when you’re serving up those espresso martinis!

Again, as I’ve stated above, be sure to use a fresh, good quality decaf espresso for this drink and it will turn out just fine!

Some of my other favourite vodka cocktails from the blog:

I have so many fun drinks I definitely encourage you to check out the cocktails page! Enjoy and drink responsibly!

vodka espresso martini
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Vodka Espresso Martini


  • Author: Katherine | Love In My Oven
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cocktail 1x

Description

Made with only 3 ingredients, this vodka espresso martini is a simple and elegant cocktail you can serve to guests or enjoy at home! Don’t forget the espresso beans for garnish!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1.5 oz hot, freshly prepared espresso*
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Kahlua**

Instructions

  1. Prepare the espresso. Use whatever your preferred method of making espresso is, but be sure it is a good quality espresso with crema on top. I use my Nespresso for this, but you can use whatever espresso machine you have. 
  2. In a cocktail shaker with 5-6 ice cubes, add the hot espresso, the Kahlua and the vodka. Close the lid and shake until you no longer hear the ice or until the outside of the shaker looks frosty and chilled.
  3. Remove the lid of the cocktail shaker and pour the drink into a martini glass. Scrape all of the extra foam from the cocktail shaker on to the top of the glass. Top with a few espresso beans and serve!

Notes

*See the blog post above on notes for using hot espresso vs chilled

**If you can’t find Kahlua brand, use any other coffee flavoured liqueur

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: cocktails
  • Method: shaken
  • Cuisine: american

Keywords: vodka espresso martini // espresso martini

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Vodka Espresso Martini

About Katherine

Heeey! Thank you for stopping by! I like 30-minute dinners and giant peanut butter cups made with only 3 ingredients. I LOVE food! If you do too, you're in the right place.

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