A picture of two Espresso Martinis and some coffee beans

The Espresso Martini, perfection in a glass

The Espresso Martini is perfection in a glass and a great Friday night pick-me-up before a night out. It’s a heady mix of brewed espresso, coffee liqueur, vodka and simple syrup. Put it all together in a glass and shake and you’ll be up and dancing in no time.

This popular cocktail is a relative newcomer to the cocktail scene. In a 2021 The Guardian newspaper report, the story goes that it was created in 1983 by bartender Dick Bradsell at London’s Soho Brasserie. The story goes that a customer wanted a drink that would f#*k her up. As vodka was the spirit of the day and he was near an espresso machine … it seemed like the perfect combination. Vodka, sugar and caffeine. Not such a bad combo.

The cocktail went out of fashion for quite a long time, but has since made a resurgence. I, for one, am glad it did. It’s a heady weekend starter. One is enough for me though as it’s potent!

Espresso Martini

Espresso Martini

Recipe by Marti Cuatt

The perfect cocktail to kick off the weekend.

Course: Cocktail HourDifficulty: Easy
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Prep time


Shake and strain


Clever Cooking

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You will need

  • 20 ml 20 simple syrup – see note below

  • 120 ml 120 vodka

  • 60 ml 60 freshly brewed espresso coffee

  • 60 ml 60 coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua)

  • 3 3 coffee beans per glass for garnish (optional)

Here’s what to do

  • Start by making the sugar syrup. It’s just equal parts sugar and water. Add the two to a pan, bring to the boil and simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved. Let it cool a little, then transfer to a sterilised jar or bottle. It keeps for a few months in the fridge.
  • Put two martini glasses in the fridge to chill.
  • Pour 20ml cooled sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker. Add a handful of ice, the vodka, espresso and coffee liqueur.
  • Shake until the outside of the cocktail shaker feels icy cold.
  • Strain into the chilled glasses. Garnish each one with coffee beans if you like.

Tips and tricks

  • Simple syrup is so easy to make at home. Just add equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer about five minutes, then allow to cool before pouring into an airtight jar or bottle.

    You can make a lighter syrup by adding 1 part sugar to 2 parts sugar.

    It keeps 3-6 months in the fridge.

Other cocktails to try

The girls’ night out wouldn’t be complete without a wonderful Cosmopolitan! Vodka, Cointreau and cranberry and lime. It’s both refreshing and loads of fun.

Image of Pina Colada Cocktail

The Pina Colada is another classic cocktail that’s a bit out of fashion, but a lovely summery refresher. Spiked with pineapple, coconut and rum, who can go wrong?

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