History of the Espresso Martini

Before we had even heard of Vodka Redbull, there was another alcoholic cocktail credited with keeping partygoers awake until the early hours. The Espresso Martini combines kahlua, vodka and hot espresso coffee with a generous amount of sugar syrup to create a thick, decadent cocktail that is as moreish as it is revitalizing. Just be careful not to drink too much, or you won’t sleep for a week!

Who Invented the Espresso Martini?

Featured on cocktail lists all over the world, the Espresso Martini is a modern classic cocktail, so the history is not as long and complicated as some of the other classics. It was actually originally called the Vodka Espresso and was created in 1983 by the bartender, Dick Bradsell, who worked at the Soho Brasserie. According to the story, a customer asked for a drink that would wake her up and fuck her up. Vodka was the most popular spirit at the time and the bartenders’ cocktail area was located right next to the espresso machine – the combination was obvious.

Bradsell’s variation is slightly different to the drink we know and love today. As well as vodka and espresso, he also added Kahlua, Tia Maria and sugar syrup, making for an incredibly rich, overpowering coffee taste. The first recipe stayed until the 1990s, when Bradsell adjusted his recipe to suit the martini-drinking crowd. He changed the name and adapted the ingredients to suit the fashions of the time.

In 1998, the drink was slightly adapted again, when Bradsell began managing The Pharmacy in Notting Hill. It was really only the name that changed, to suit his new surroundings, but it was the Espresso Martini that stuck.

Variations of the Espresso Martini

Apart from the three drinks mentioned above, there have been numerous takes on the classic Espresso Martini. The Espresso Daiquiri, for example, replaces vodka with rum, while the Cuppa Joe incorporates hazelnut liqueur. If you are not a fan of Kahlua, you might want to try the Flat White, which uses Irish Cream liqueur in its place, or an Irish Espresso’tini, which also adds vanilla vodka. The possibilities are endless with this drink, thanks to the variety of ingredients, but for a particularly naughty variation, you might like the Lotus Espresso, which replaces sugar syrup with maple syrup for a thicker finish. Whichever cocktail you chose, it is not an Espresso Martini unless it has been garnished with three coffee beans – one to represent health, one for wealth and one for happiness.

Cocktails mentioned in this post

Espresso Martini cocktail
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Espresso Martini
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4 ingredients  
Pour ingredients into shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into chilled cocktail glass. It should be somewhat frothy. Finish with a few coffee beans or flakes of dark chocolate. ...
Pour ingredients into shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into chilled cocktail glass. It should be somewhat frothy. Finish ...
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This post was written by ....

Suzanna H
Hi, I am Suzanna. I would describe myself as a bit of a foodie with a side-interest in fancy cocktails. Anything sweet and alcoholic and I'm in! I am also an avid writer, proofreader and editor and work freelance through the website People per Hour.

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