The Liquor Cabinet

Everything You Ever Needed To Know About The Espresso Martini

The Espresso Martini. A beverage that sees bartender meet barista. As a cocktail, it says class. It says sophistication. With the Kahlua liqueur and Absolut Vodka combo, it says “Hello, I’m fancy and have an eye for quality”.

It also says you probably need the caffeine to make it past 10pm at social events.


But just how much do you know about your fave cocktail? Read on and learn some stuff. Then crack the facts out next time you order a ’spressy to show the bartender you actually know what you’re talking about, instead of just pretending that you do.


Where did it come from?


Loads of people claim to have invented the Espresso Martini. Heck, even you’ve probably tried to pass it off as your own recipe to first-time triers.


But, really, it was knocked together by a London bartender called Dick Bradsell. He made it back in the ‘80s when a now super famous supermodel asked him to mix her something to help her kick on through the night (we can relate).


You could say that, after that, the Espresso Martini took off. Literally. Because bartenders from the UK started heading over to Australia for a working holiday, taking Bradsell’s Espresso Martini concoction with them. And boy, did it go down a treat.


What’s in it?


Bradsell’s original Espresso Martini kept things simple: Absolut Vodka, Kahlua coffee liqueur, sugar syrup, and a heady shot of espresso. He probably garnished it with three coffee beans like they do in fancier cocktail bars. What’s the point of them? Truly, no one knows.


But now you can get all sorts of ’spressies. Some places are substituting the vodka for rum or tequila. Some do translucent ones. Some are using donuts in place of the three beans.


Some people don’t seem to have ever heard the saying ‘less is more’, but we’re kind of into it.


What do people think of it?


Nowadays, Aussies are the ones championing the Espresso Martini. We can’t get enough of them.


In fact, we like them so much, we throw them their own festival every year. Yeah, that’s right – an actual three-day festival. It started in Melbourne, but Sydney and Adelaide are in on the act now, too. Give it a few years and there’ll probably be a public holiday in its honour.


Should I try it?


Giving a DIY version a shot will save you some cash and make you look like a total boss when it’s your turn to host drinks.


Here are some tips on how to nail the perfect Espresso Martini (with props to the experts, Absolut and Kahlua):


  • Pre-chill your martini glass in the freezer for a minimum of 20 mins before serving.

  • Start with 30mL Absolut vodka, 30mL Kahlua, 30mL espresso and 10mL sugar syrup, and adjust the quantities to your taste using some good old-fashioned trial and error.

  • Invest in good quality beans and fire up the coffee machine. Remember: instant is not an option.

  • Put everything in a shaker (ice first). Do not shake it like a Polaroid picture. Use a forward and back motion instead and go for about 10 seconds to get a top froth.


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