The Espresso Martini

As George Michael sings, you got to get up to get down, and there is no party cocktail that quite does that for you like the Espresso Martini.

Caffeine and Vodka in the same glass, what could possibly go wrong?

For a party cocktail this one has impeccable provenance: London, the 1980s, Fred’s Bar in Soho, a famous model, the trendy spirit of time Vodka and a legendary bar man, Dick Bradsell.

The story goes that the model asked for a drink that would “wake me up and f**k me up.

So he mixed her an espresso and vodka on the rocks. Later on he refined the cocktail to the shaken over ice and strained version we’ll explore today.

I’m a purist when it comes to my own Martinis, but it would be churlish to ignore perhaps the most popular variation on theme. I know otherwise intelligent, successful people who just love these and would not go near the classic variety.

My version below of the Espresso Martini was a hit when I mixed the cocktails for an episode Real Housewives of Melbourne and I reckon they’d know their way around one of these.  So lets get down to it.

How to Make 


You’ll need a decent Vodka (I opted for the refined Puer Vodka from Tasmania distillery McHenry + Sons) but most any one will do that’s got a clean flavour, its doesn’t be dominated by the coffee anyways.

I would recommend you track down a bottle of the lovely Mr Black (see below) which is pretty much designed for an Espresso Martini.

You’ll want a little sweetness, I tried using a simple syrup (half water, half caster sugar dissolved), but found a touch of caster sugar worked as well.

If you can’t get your hands on Mr Black, that you could opt for some Tia Maria which is richer and sweeter, and so skip the sugar touch.

The trick here is that you want everything as cold as possible, including your mixer, glasses, and ingredients and plenty of ice.

Oh, and you’ll get a work out in a minute, so you’ll come out even in calories: win!

The Mix #1

  • One part Vodka (30ml)
  • Two Parts Mr Black or Tia Maria (60ml)
  • Half a teaspoon of caster sugar (NOT regular sugar) – don’t use if you’re using Tia Maria
  • Cocktail shaker with lots of ice and a strainer.
  • Poor into a chilled glass using the strainer to keep ice shards out, and you’re aiming for a nice 5mm thick froth on top.
  • You can garnish with three coffee beans or nothing as you wish.

Alternate Recipe #2

  • One part Vodka
  • One part coffee liqueur such as the excellent Lawrenny Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
  • One shot of espresso
  • Cocktail shaker with lots of ice and a strainer.
  • Shake until super frosty on the shaker, and then some
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • Dust with some ground nutmeg.

Mix the ingredients, and then shake, and shake, and shake, and then keep going. You’re aiming for plenty of froth that is like a crema on a proper Espresso coffee.

Pro tip: If you’ve a hawthorn strainer tool, you can take off the spring and add it to the shaker to turbo charge your shake!


Using Real Coffee

Of course you can go old school and use espresso coffee. Don’t use it hot, let it cool down to room temp, or better still chilled.

Depending on the type of coffee and its strength you may need to change the ratio of coffee to Vodka, which may take a few goes… which has the makings of a fun party! This will also add extra body to the cocktail.

About Mr Black

IMG_1567This product was released several years back and is the result  of some careful blending premium cold drip coffee (some 240 versions were trialled apparently) with a clean spirit of 24% ABV.

The result is a remarkably smooth and harmonious drink that has none of the bitterness of coffee, or obvious alcoholic kick, and isn’t cloying sweet either.

For Australian locals, its readily available (about AUD $60 for a 700ml bottle) or at a range of outlets around Australia listed on their website here.