What’s not to love about an espresso martini? It has the decadence of a dessert combined with the pick-me-up power of a latte, making it the perfect pre- or post-dinner pick. Whether you’re looking for a quick energy boost at brunch or a rich nightcap to end your dinner date on a sweet note, this classic drink never fails.
So, it makes sense that espresso martinis are the official drink of 2021: According to Yelp data, review mentions for this particular cocktail are up by 63 percent this year. But perhaps the best part about an espresso martini is that it’s surprisingly easy to make at home.
According to Van Hongthong, beverage director for Row 34, there are multiple ways to make an espresso martini, ranging from bold, darker takes to lighter, creamier versions. The former only requires three simple ingredients: vodka, espresso and simple syrup.
The latter requires a few extra items, but nothing you can’t find at your local liquor store. Most creamy espresso martinis use Bailey’s or similar liqueurs, but lactose-intolerant drinkers will be glad to know that Hongthong’s recipe is completely dairy-free. We love to see it!
By the way—if you don’t have an espresso machine at home, Hongthong says you can still whip up a similar cocktail using cold brew concentrate. He recommends making your own batch using a ratio of 3/4 cup of coarsely ground coffee beans to 3 cups of water. After combining the ingredients in a jar, shake well and then let the mixture rest overnight or up to 12 hours.
You could also use a coffee-infused spirit, like the Tia Maria Cold Brew Liqueur—this full-bodied cold brew liqueur, made from 100% Arabica coffee beans, provides all the intensity your cocktail needs.
Ready to shake, strain and sip your way to caffeinated bliss? Read on for the step-by-step instructions on how to make two different takes on the iconic espresso martini.
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“Amarula is a cordial made from the fruit of the marula tree,” says Hongthong. “It has flavors of vanilla, caramel and some spice. The best part about it is they have set up a trust to help with elephant conservation through environmental or educational programs.”
Note: since I don’t have any Amarula on hand, I swapped it out for Disaronno Velvet, a luxuriously creamy liqueur that lends subtle flavors of almond and vanilla. Hongthong’s recipe is amazing, but my swap works in a pinch!