Espresso Martini - Original Recipe & History - Vintage American co*cktails (2024)

Espresso Martini - Original Recipe & History - Vintage American co*cktails (1)

Espresso Martini

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Course: DrinksCuisine: British

Learn how to make an Espresso Martini


  • 1/2 oz 15 ml Simple Syrup

  • 1.5 oz 45 ml Espresso

  • 2/3 oz 20 ml Coffee Liqueur

  • 1.5 oz 45 ml Vodka


  • Technique: Saxe Soda Shake
  • Combine all ingredients into a co*cktail shaker.Espresso Martini - Original Recipe & History - Vintage American co*cktails (2)
  • Add one medium or two small ice cubes to the co*cktail shaker and shake until the ice fully melts.Espresso Martini - Original Recipe & History - Vintage American co*cktails (3)
  • Without a strainer, pour the chilled and aerated drink into a glass.Espresso Martini - Original Recipe & History - Vintage American co*cktails (4)
  • Garnish:
  • 3 espresso beansEspresso Martini - Original Recipe & History - Vintage American co*cktails (5)

Recipe Video


The History Of The Espresso Martini.

Invented by Dick Bradsell at Fred’s Club in London during the late 1980s, the espresso martini was the request of one of the patrons. Dick Bradsell claims a famous supermodel walked into the bar and requested a co*cktail that would “Wake me up, and f*ck me up.” He liked to elude to who, but he never said precisely who requested the drink, but most think it was Kate Moss; the other guess is maybe Naomi Campbell. Interestingly Kate Moss was born in 1974, so for this version to be true, the oldest Kate Moss could have been was 16. She didn’t turn 18 till 1992. Maybe that’s why he never wanted to say who the model was, or the story is a bit exaggerated to make it sound cooler. Either way, who cares. It was over 30 years ago, and the espresso martini is excellent. The original name for the espresso martini was the vodka espresso, but somewhere along the line, they went with espresso martini because it sounded cooler. During this period, there was also Cold War resentment, and Dick Bradsell mentioned in interviews how he would try to avoid using Russian vodkas as it upset some in positions of power over him. Perhaps dropping the word vodka from its name was a strategic move to help avoid criticism.

Can You Use Normal Coffee To Make An Espresso Martini?

Of course, you can use regular coffee for an espresso martini; you can do whatever you damn well please, but it may not have the same flavor or foam on top. If you want to make an espresso martini, you need espresso. Drip coffee gets you 50% of the way there but not all the way. It will still be good but not the same. This matters, and why espresso is much better for this drink than regular drip coffee is the water to coffee ratio of espresso vs. drip coffee. Espresso is a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of coffee to water, and traditional drip coffee is around 1:10 for a medium flavor cup of coffee. The drip coffee is fine, but since you are only using 1 oz of it, you want as much flavor and coffee bean oils as possible. The oil helps give it foam (read the section below on froth), and drip coffee will leave the drink underwhelming, but the Kahlua does help.

I won’t lie; I was gifted a big espresso maker that cost a ton when helping a friend move; I would never personally pay for a coffee maker that cost as much as this one cost, but it is super fast and easy to use and convenient for getting an espresso shot or two right away. Although, after all the years of drinking good and bad coffee and owning different makers, my favorite espresso maker is still my old little cheap Bialetti stovetop unit. It’s 30 bucks, has no moving parts, is easy to use, and makes hands down the best espresso. I would challenge my old dirty little Bialetti to the most expensive espresso machine any day. It’s one of those things invented 100+ years ago and has never changed because the first design was perfect. TLDR, if you are planning to make a ton of these, then get a machine to pull quick shots, but if you’re making a few for yourself and friends, save your money and use a cheap stovetop unit. Also, I find how tight the espresso is tamped down to be more meaningful. There are little torque tampers that click when the pressure is ideal, but you press until you can press anymore and feel the grains stop compressing. Don’t hulk it, but don’t be afraid to smash it down. This helps promote a more even and slower extraction. This was a bit of a coffee rant, but I hope it helps if you were wondering.

How To Make An Espresso Martini Frothy?

Foam is challenging to get right in co*cktails. Everyone struggles with it at some point, and bartenders search for any way to make getting a good stable foam easier. Henry Ramos hired “shaker boys” to shake for him. Some use the dry shake or reverse dry shake, others swear by only using one large ice cube, and some say you have to shake till your arms fall off. The method I like is called the Saxe Soda Shake, invented De Forest Saxe in the 1880s.

The Saxe Shake is largely unknown in the co*cktail world because De Forest Saxe was a soda fountain operator in Chicago, Illinois. His 1890 book “Saxe’s New Guide Hints to Soda Water Dispensers” details his shaking technique for egg drinks that produces the best foam and can be accomplished with minimal effort. Saxe states to shake drinks with eggs with only one chestnut-sized ice cube. An Ice cube from a standard ice tray is about chestnut-sized, so one or two small cubes will work. Then shake until the ice fully melts, and pour into the serving glass without straining. The small amount of ice is just enough to cool and dilute the drink, and since there are no remaining bits of ice left in the shaker, there is nothing to strain. Passing the mixture through a strainer destroys most of the bubbles you worked so hard to make. As you add soda water, the escaping carbon dioxide fills the tiny bubbles in the drink, forcing them to expand and form a large fluffy foam. Give it a try. Using the Saxe Shake, I have turned out Ramos Gin Fizzes as fast and efficiently as any other shaken co*cktail with excellent results.

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Espresso Martini - Original Recipe & History - Vintage American co*cktails (2024)
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