Absolut Vodka, Kahlúa, Espresso, Coffee Beans
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add Absolut Vodka, Kahlúa, and Espresso. Shake well to get the foam on top, and strain it into a cocktail or martini glass. Garnish by placing three coffee beans on top.
Written by Michael Bergström
This ”pick me up” style of cocktail is a result of an off-the-cuff lightbulb moment by a pioneering and now late but legendary bartender from London. The story goes that in the mid-80’s a supermodel walked up to the renowned bartender and asked him for a drink in a manner we can’t repeat here. The bartender swiftly pulled a fresh espresso from the newly installed coffee machine in the bar and mixed it with Vodka, Kahlua and a touch of sugar, gave it a good shake and strained it into a martini glass, and just like that a modern classic was born. Fast-forward to today, the Espresso Martini has by far surpassed drinks such as the Mojito and Margarita in fame and recognition. Cheers to Health, Wealth & Happiness as the three beans symbolise floating gently on the creamy head.
What you need
You need a cocktail shaker. There are many different variations but the most common are Cobbler, Boston or Parisian style cocktail shakers, for the last two you need a hawthorne strainer as well. In a home environment though, a sports drink shaker could be an option as they often have a convenient built in strainer (healthy sinner right there!).
For the actual drink you’ll need Absolut Vodka, Kahlua Coffee liqueur, some sugar syrup, or as we call it simple syrup which means 50/50 caster Sugar and water that is heated until the sugar is dissolved and then cooled down before using. And of course a shot of your favourite espresso. There are a number of different pods on the market, all with different character and intensity. We prefer quite a high intensity pod for ours. But by all means, feel free to experiment with Cold Brew or regular filter coffee for a less intense profile.
Originally and as the name refers to, an Espresso Martini is served in a Martini glass or stemmed cocktail glass but you can definitely use whatever glass you have at hand. Why not a short glass over ice.
Step by step guide
• Get your shaker out.
• Prepare your espresso and pour it into the shaker.
• Add your Absolut Vodka, a trick here to chill down the freshly made espresso so it doesn't make the ice melt too fast is to have your vodka in the fridge or freezer prior to use.
• Grab the Kahlua and and dump one part into your vessel.
• Now add good quality ice, preferably not straight from the freezer as it might crack into small pieces and risk diluting your drink too fast. Let the ice “sweat” a little while before using it.
• Give it a good shake, proper vigorous shake to get that crema worked up.
• Strain it into your glass, a trick here is to give the shaker a quick swirl just before you pour to get all that yummy coffee foam out. An option here to really get that thick espresso crema is to double strain your drink, i.e. use a tea strainer as well as the regular strainer.
• Add three coffee beans for Health, Wealth & Happiness.
• Close your eyes with the first sip and enjoy!
What is the white foam in an Espresso Martini?
The frothy head appears when the oils from the coffee and C02 are emulsified through shaking, generating a beautiful crema on top, though we’re sure a bit of the sugar from the Kahlúa helps too. Bear in mind that there are a few more things that factor in to succeed with a great foam. Shake vigorously and use good clear ice. This allows you to shake for a longer time and really work up that froth without diluting the drink too fast. Dilution comes from when the ice slowly melts into your drink, which is a good thing because it is when the ice goes from solid form to liquid form it actually is chilling your cocktail too. But If you use what we’d refer to as “shitty” ice like nuggets or pebbles when shaking your drink it’ll dilute your drink too fast and you’ll most likely end up with a flat, watery Espresso Martini.
Conclusion; bigger and better ice slows down the dilution which means you can shake a bit longer to gain that rich crema and froth.
How do you make an espresso martini better?
The biggest mistake is to not shake it vigorously enough, and that goes for any shaken cocktail but especially the Espresso Martini since we know you’d love to get that crema and frothy head on your drink. Be sure to use good solid full ice cubes rather than nuggets or pebbles.
Also, don’t be afraid to play around with measures to find the right recipe for you., An easy way to start is to use equal parts of each ingredient and then navigate from there, adjusting the ratios to your liking to find out if you prefer a more potent character, more or less sweetness or maybe a boosted espresso profile.
Another recommendation that goes for any cocktail is to pre chill your stemmed glasses in a freezer before you pour it, keeping it crisp and cool all the way through to the final sip.
What liquor is best for an espresso martini?
We believe a great quality Vodka such as Absolut is best suited to accompany the rich Kahlúa and intense espresso to create a perfect balance between our complex vodka, the nectar sweetness of the liqueur and the astringency and pleasant bitterness from the coffee.
Does espresso martini have coffee?
Just like the name indicates, it sure does. Now the world of coffee is huge and character can vary a lot depending on type of beans, medium or dark roast and even on what kind of machine you're using for your espresso. We could go on and on talking bars of pressure, vibration pumps vs. rotary pumps for home machines. But to keep it simple we like a dark roast on a higher scale of intensity if you are using a standard compact espresso machine at home.
Do you have to use fresh espresso coffee?
Preferably yes! But in the end it all comes down to how long ago you brewed that espresso you’ll be using, as any fresh foods or freshly prepared beverages will change with time. Though if you would pre-batch let’s say 10 Espresso Martinis for an upcoming party that won’t be a problem. Just as for freshly squeezed juices it would last overnight in a fridge until it’s time to shake them up for your guests.
What type of alcohol is in Espresso Martini?
Originally Vodka of great quality, we naturally (literally) choose Absolut Vodka for its rich character with hints of caramel and vanilla that carries this drink beautifully. Purists as we are, we go for Kahlúa as that's the coffee liqueur it originally was made with. With that said you could have cracking fun with the Espresso Martini by playing around Absolut’s different range of flavours, The obvious being Absolut Vanilia, but let us secretly “spill out” that an Absolut Grapefruit Espresso Martini is just remarkably delicious, likewise with Absolut Peppar that will give it an extra kick in character with its peppery notes.
Why is espresso martini so good?
If you like coffee, a well made Espresso Martini will satisfy so many senses if not all of them. Just the sound and rhythm of the ice chilling your drink as it’s vigorously shaken, the mesmerising sight of the freshly poured drink slowly setting, the smell and taste of the perfect balance of sweet and dry where all ingredients are enhanced by the vodka and finally the mouthfeel and the silky thick foam on top.
Why are espresso martinis trending?
It’s always been around since it was invented in the late 80s, but with the current sophisticated coffee trend, social media and the fact that it's that kind of cocktail that you can put your personal touch on very easily it just blew up and has become a massive thing. Also coffee is something most people are drinking on a daily basis and it might be so that it seems less timorous to use in a cocktail compared to some other ingredients, and today it’s more common to find modern espresso machines in our homes which contributes to the access of freshly made espresso.
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