How to make the perfect cocktail: #1 Espresso Martini

A decent Espresso Martini can be described exactly as it tastes – smooth, sophisticated and strong – the perfect cocktail for a quick pick me up that tastes absolutely delicious. According to cocktail histories of old, it was created in the 1980’s in Soho when a barman was asked by a young lady to make her a drink that “wakes me up and then [insert rude word]’s me up”. Since that fateful night when coffee and vodka were shaken up for the first time, the espresso martini has become a household favourite and certainly one of my go-to drinks of choice.

It’s rich, creamy and indulgent yet will keep you dancing long into the early hours. Such a simple drink, yet the depth of coffee flavour is fabulously brought out by the sweetness of liquor and sharpness of vodka. The perfectly decadent digestif to avoid the after dinner lull and impress your guests beyond the usual mint-crisp-on-the-saucer.

Simple to make at home for any occasion (even if you’re feeling particularly indulgent like Adam and I were at 3pm on Sunday afternoon!), the trick is to use a good quality espresso shot and follow the steps in order so that you end up with an enviable creamy froth that sits at the top of the glass.

You will need:

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Cocktail strainer (or a coctail shaker with strainer attached, or if all else fails, a slotted spoon)
  • Espresso Machine and Coffee Grinder, or some way of making a lovely espresso shot
  • Martini glasses


  • Ice
  • 1 shot of good quality espresso
  • 50ml Vanilla Vodka
  • 25ml Kahlua or similar
  • 25ml Baileys or similar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)



  1. Fill the cocktail shaker 3/4 full with ice
  2. Pour over your freshly make espresso shot to chill
  3. Add in vanilla vodka, Kahlua, Baileys and vanilla extract. N.B. some recipes skip the vanilla extract and/or Baileys for a less sweet cocktail
  4. Attach the other half of your cocktail shaker and shake vigourously for 10 seconds or so. You want to smash up the ice whilst cooling the liquid as this is what makes the drink frothy. A tip on cocktail shaking – easiest shaken over your shoulder but avoid shaking directly at anyone – occasionally cocktail shakers can loose their tops or bottoms and nobody appreciates being hit on the nose with half a shaker (mainly because that means the cocktail is now all over them and the floor!)
  5. Once shaken, tap the side of the shaker to break the vacuum seal, place the strainer over the cocktail shaker and pour the contents slowly down the edge of the martini glass, this should create a smooth froth and two distinct colour layers.
  6. Garnish with 3 roasted coffee beans, sip a little and claim it as the best cocktail you’ve ever tasted!

how-to-make-the-perfect-cocktail-espresso-martini-top-side-layersHave you got another favourite cocktail, or are you a massive fan of the espresso martini? Let me know if there are any you think I should try next in this series!