Espresso Martini – Original Recipe & History

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Espresso Martini
Espresso Martini

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 cocktail that would “Wake me up, and fuck 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?

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 is 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 makes it difficult for the bubbles to break apart or combine 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 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. That’s 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 is 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 has way more foam than my first shot and tastes better. Maybe it is a setting I need to change or 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 lose color, you are pulling too long. Also, try different brands. Different brands roast differently, which can change how much oil the toasted seeds can hold. I’ve always been a big fan of the Cuban brands, but the Italian ones are good. 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 making an espresso martini, it’s not very foamy, and he’s the guy who invented them.


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Espresso Martini

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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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