Wake Up Your Happy Hour with an Espresso Martini

I firmly believe that happy hour (or the cocktail hour, for those of you who call it that) is a must every single week.

Vertical image of two espresso martinis on a slate serving platter with a stainless steel cocktail shaker and jigger, and a spoonful of coffee powder with more scattered on the surface, on a blue and white cloth with a charcoal gray background, printed with orange and white text.

There’s something about enjoying a cocktail at the end of the day that allows me to slow down and cut off from the ever-so-stressful work mode.

Taking a moment to sip on something truly delicious, paired with a small bite to eat before dinner, is such a simple concept. It used to be something that my grandparents lived by in their household.

As soon as five o’clock rolled around, my grandma was bringing out the martini shaker for my grandpa’s drink, so it was ready to be poured as soon as he walked through the door.

Two espresso martinis with a swirl of air bubbles on top and sugar rims, on a slate serving platter with a spoonful of coffee powder with more scattered around it, a stainless steel measuring jigger and a frosty cocktail shaker, on a blue and white cloth surface.

I know it sounds oh-so-traditional, but they really were that kind of couple, back in the heyday of when cocktail hour was an institution at home. They would have a couple cocktails by the big fireplace while dinner was finishing in the oven, or on the stove.

It was that time of day when they could take a moment to themselves, while their five children were milling around the house, playing and finishing homework. For that reason, there’s a place in my heart where I hold the cocktail hour fondly.

I only wish I could have been old enough to enjoy one with my grandparents, before they passed away.

Sorry, really, I’m not trying to be a downer with that topic. Honestly, it’s more of a happy memory, knowing how much they loved each other – as well as ample food, and martinis.

Overhead shot of two espresso martinis with flavored sugar rims, on a slate surface with a spoonful of coffee powder with more scattered around it, and a stainless steel measuring jigger, on a blue and white patterned cloth.

Now, I know that there are a lot of bars and restaurants out there boasting their happy hour menus, with specials out the wazoo. You can get a dollar off your favorite beer, discount apps, or 2-for-1 deals on a glass of wine.

It’s a nice excuse to go out.

But for me, sometimes a happy hour at home is one of the best you can have – not to mention, you can save some money by making your own cocktails.

Two espresso martinis with sugar rims in glasses with decoratively bent stems, on a slate surface with a stainless steel cocktail shaker and a measuring jibber, on a blue cloth, with a charcoal gray background.

The next time you’re having a gathering where adult beverages will be served, consider breaking out this lovely martini for your friends and family.

I am not a fan of the traditional gin or vodka martini personally. I like my martinis to have some added flavor, and that is exactly what this recipe brings to the table.

It’s amazing how simple this drink is to create. There are only 5 ingredients total, with two of those being for the rimming sugar.

Overhead shot of two espresso martinis with coffee and sugar rims, on a slate serving platter with a stainless steel cocktail shaker and a measuring jigger, and a spoonful of coffee powder with more scattered on the slate, on a blue cloth with white speckles.

I absolutely love the rimming sugar that goes on the edge of the martini glass for this drink. It’s a simple combination of sugar and instant espresso powder, and it gives a sweet and bitter zing to every sip.

You could skip it if you really want to, but it’s so much fancier with an espresso sugar rim!

The cocktail recipe itself is made up of just three simple ingredients: vodka, coffee liqueur, and espresso. The combination of these gives you a little boost of caffeine, with the edge that vodka brings, and the smoothness of Kahlua.

Vertical image of two coffee cocktails in martini glasses, with a stainless steel shaker and jigger, and a spoonful of coffee powder with more scattered around it on a slate serving board, on a blue and white cloth on a wood surface, with a charcoal gray background.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s the only way to drink caffeine once five o’clock rolls around, from now until forever.

Print
Two espresso martinis in glasses with decoratively bent stems, on a slate serving platter with a cocktail shaker and jigger, and a spoon filled with espresso powder with more scattered on the slate, on one plain blue cloth beneath a white and blue speckled patterned cloth, on a wood surface.

The Best Espresso Martini


  • Author: Meghan Yager

Description

Add a boost of caffeine to your next happy hour with the best espresso martini. Our simple recipe only requires 5 ingredients.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Rimming Sugar:

  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp instant espresso powder

For the Cocktail:

  • 1 fl oz espresso, chilled
  • 2 fl oz vodka
  • 1 1/2 fl oz Kahlua, or your favorite coffee-flavored liqueur

Instructions

  1. Stir together sugar and instant espresso in a small bowl until combined. Pour mixture onto a small plate or saucer. Wet the rim of a martini glass, and rim with the espresso sugar. Set aside.
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in espresso, vodka, and coffee liqueur. Shake well, for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  3. Strain into the rimmed martini glass and serve.

Notes

For a vanilla version, try vanilla-infused vodka. Yum!

  • Category: Martini
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: espresso, espresso martini, martini, coffee, cocktail

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Measure Ingredients

Vertical image of a cocktail shaker, a martini glass, a small glass bowl of coffee liqueur, and beaker-style shot glasses of vodka and espresso, on a wood surface with a charcoal gray background.

Measure out all of the ingredients as they are listed in the ingredients list.

Step 2 – Make Rimming Sugar

Overhead slightly oblique shot of a small glass bowl of espresso grounds mixed with granulated sugar, on a wood surface.

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and instant espresso powder until combined. Transfer the mixture to a small plate, saucer, or rimming dish, like the one pictured below, available from Amazon.

Stainless Steel Cocktail Glass Rimmer

Wet the rim of a martini glass, then rim with the espresso sugar by lightly dipping the rim into the sugar mixture and giving it a little bit of a twist.

A martini glass with a decorative bent stem, inverted and being dipped into a black ceramic saucer of coffee and sugar, on a wood surface with a charcoal gray background.

Set the glass aside.

Step 3 – Combine, Shake, and Serve

Add the chilled espresso, vodka, and Kahlua to a shaker filled with ice. Shake well, for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Overhead shot of a stainless steel cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes, coffee, and liquor, on a wood surface.

Even though the ice will chill the drink, you don’t want to water it down too much. You should definitely give the espresso time to chill completely before you make this beverage, and wait to shake the ingredients together until just before serving.

Strain into a rimmed martini glass, sit back, and enjoy.

Transform Happy Hour into an Elegant Cocktail Party

Whether you are having friends over or simply want to treat yourself at the end of a long day, think about turning happy hour into an elegant cocktail party.

This martini is so easy to make and provides a kick of caffeine that’s just what you need to get any party started, so I love to bring it out on a Friday night.

Two espresso martinis in glasses with decoratively bent stems, on a slate serving platter with a cocktail shaker and jigger, and a spoon filled with espresso powder with more scattered on the slate, on one plain blue cloth beneath a white and blue speckled patterned cloth, on a wood surface.

You can easily pair it with a simple bruschetta or crostini recipe, a meat and cheese board, or any Italian-themed appetizer you can imagine.

If you need some inspiration for other coffee cocktails to serve, check out the following:

Enjoy your happy hour, and remember to always drink responsibly!

What appetizer will you serve alongside this incredible martini? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to return to rate the recipe as soon as you try it!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via W&P. From a recipe originally published on July 3, 2015 by Mike Quinn. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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