Espresso Martini – Dick Bradsell’s Iconic Vodka Espresso Cocktail

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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 cocktail that would “Wake me up, and fuck me up.” He liked to elude to who but he never said exactly who requested the drink, but most seem to 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 is 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 great. 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. There was also Cold War resentment during this time period 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 normal coffee for espresso martini, you can do whatever the hell you damn well please, but it may not have the same flavor or foam on top. If you wanna make an espresso martini you kinda 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. Why this matters and why espresso is much better for this drink than normal 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 normal 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 is what helps give it foam (read the section below on froth) and drip coffee will leave the drink a bit 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 stove top unit. It’s 30 bucks, no moving parts, 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 that was 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 day after day then get a machine to pull quick shots, but if you’re just making a few for yourself and friends then save your money and use a cheap stove top 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 really you just press till you can press anymore and you 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

Shaking produces tons of bubbles but without something to stabilize the bubbles and keep them from falling apart back into the drink. Typically in cocktails the denatured protein in egg whites are used to create foam but how do you make foam without egg whites? Try shaking a martini, it will never get foamy. So the bubble stabilizing parts of an espresso martini are oil and sugar. Oil and sugar help increases the viscosity of the drink and make it difficult for the bubbles to break apart or combine together into larger bubbles. Also you kinda just gotta shake the shit out of it. You don’t need to shake it any longer but it should be a bit harder than usual since you’re trying to get a drink to foam that doesn’t really want to.

The photo I took of this cocktail was made with this exact recipe, but sometimes you get different results even when you do something the same way. Thats life. So if the foam does not quite look like this then first check your espresso. The rule of thumb is the more light brown foam on top of your espresso the more oil. The foam on top of the espresso shot are the oils from the coffee bean. Experiment with a longer or slower extraction, if you can, to see if you get more foam on the top of your espresso. Personally my machine pulls a shot a bit too fast. I found that my second shot of the same grounds actually has way more foam than my first shot and also taste better. Maybe its a setting I need to change or just how this one works. White foam is not helpful though and is just the shot getting watered down. White foam is mostly watery coffee bean oil that won’t hold or taste good. It should be a nice light brown, once the espresso foam starts to loose color you are pulling too long. Also try different brands. Different brands roast differently and that can change how much oil the toasted seeds can hold. I’ve always been a big fan of the Cuban brands but Italian ones are good too. Another thing to try is adding a bit more sugar or coffee liqueur. Not too much as these proportions are good but a teaspoon more (5mls) can help hold the foam after shaking. Also if you ever watch a video of Dick Bradsell make an espresso martini its not very foamy, and he’s the guy who invented them.


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Espresso Martini – Dick Bradsell’s Iconic Vodka Espresso Cocktail

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Course: DrinksCuisine: British






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Learn how to make an Espresso Martini


  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup

  • 1 oz Espresso

  • 2/3 oz Coffee Liqueur

  • 1.5 oz Vodka


  • Combine all ingredients in the shaker. Add ice to the shaker.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Strain into glass to remove ice shards.
  • Garnish with 3 espresso beans.


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