Home-Bar Espresso Martini

A good espresso martini is dark, dramatic, frothy, and, as I have come to know after several weeks of quarantine, does not entirely require an espresso machine.

For this drink you will need:

  • Tools: Jigger, Shaker, Strainer, & Ice
  • Ingredients: Vodka, Coffee Liqueur, Cacao Liqueur, and Bold Coffee Concentrate

Let’s begin with the main home-bar hack:

Coffee Concentrate

Two coffees, both alike in dignity, for under $5

While an espresso machine is modern proof of humanity’s liquid triumph over a languid and dull life, they are at the worst of their existence also fickle, impertinent percolators. Every now and then during bar service, our holy relic of a machine would lash out in defiance and sputter to a devastating halt. Not to be outdone, that left our bar team with the challenge of deftly designing an espresso martini without its loudest ingredient.

Over the years I’ve substituted a variety of coffee concentrates for espresso in my recipes, but all of my successes have a few things in common: high quality, freshly opened, cold, with greater density than your average cup of coffee. Chameleon Coffee and Cuvée Nitro, both made in Austin, make excellent bootleg espresso martinis with subtle differences. Chameleon makes a leaner drink that allows the vodka base to shine. Martini purists can rejoice– there is a way to appreciate vodka between all of the big bad umami notes in this cocktail. Cuvée Nitro makes for a more integrated experience with a creamier texture. Plus, there is the deeply satisfying moment of opening a can: the crack of a nitrogen whip, so much like popping a bottle of champagne.

Purchase Local, Like This Rare Liqueur

When I make cocktails at home I try to use at least one local ingredient, and I encourage you to do the same. It takes curiosity and gumption, but has ultimately filled my home bar with color, connection and nostalgia.

The coffee liqueur I used for this recipe was a small release collaboration between Spokesman Coffee and a Master Distiller at Still Austin called ‘Delevante’. Any dark, rich coffee liqueur will do, as long as it doesn’t overemphasize the sweetness of your cacao liqueur. (375 mL bottles like this one are great for experimenting with new product)

Instead of adding simple syrup (sugar) to your martini, find a well-balanced cacao liqueur to sweeten it up for you:

This bottle by Tempus Fugit Spirits combines Venezuelan cacao with Mexican vanilla and is additive-free.

To Build:

  • 1.5 oz Vodka (your choice, vodka is personal)
  • 1 oz chilled Coffee Concentrate
  • .5 oz Coffee Liqueur
  • .5 oz Cacao Liqueur

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a coupe or enjoy on the rocks. Garnish with fresh coffee beans if you’re going for it.

Pair: A Chocolate & Cheese Board or a Zoom Chat

Remember to drink in moderation and let me know how your home-bar martini turned out in the comments below!


  1. Jameson

    Made something similar with Kaloa coffee rum, 360 vanilla vodka and a little bit of a locally canned black Russian cocktail. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂


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