Not just for dessert anymore, the espresso martini with Baileys can literally be shaken up in two minutes! This Italian cocktail swaps Irish cream liquor for traditional Kahlua with creamy results. The best cocktail party drink for the holidays!
If you love espresso and a good cocktail, then grab a shaker and let's get to shaking, baby! An espresso martini that is. Creamy Baileys gets shaken up with a little vodka and espresso for before dinner, after dinner or anytime cocktails are on the menu!
Feeling a big need to espress-o yourself (sorry I couldn't resist)? A batch of this super easy dark chocolate espresso bark or a scoop of stracciatella gelato are sweet ends to a great dinner.
Best vodka for espresso martini
What kind of vodka works best for an espresso martini? Many times the answer for these kind of blended cocktails is "it doesn't matter". The short answer really is whatever you have on hand or prefer drinking.
In case you need more, this guide by Decanter has lots of great recommendations for vodka flavor profiles that work well with espresso.
Espresso is not only a drink but it's also a type of brewing method.
Espresso means "expressed," as in forcing steam or water through the finely ground beans.
Espresso: the non-negotiable ingredient
If you get the notion that swapping out regular drip coffee for espresso would work for your martini, you need to swap that idea right back.
Espresso is critical for an espresso martini for a few reasons:
- Flavor. Espresso is finely ground and uses less water resulting in a velvety smooth flavor coffee could never replicate.
- Crema: Because espresso is extracted or pressed through the machine, you get that natural, creamy topping that is crema.
- Name. It's not called a coffee martini. 😊
Don't have an espresso machine?
You can buy instant espresso powder from Medaglia de Oro in a pinch to make a pretty creamy espresso martini. It's a lot cheaper than buying a machine (p.s. love this stovetop espresso maker)!
Tips for making the best espresso martini
- Mise en place. While espresso martini can be made in under 2 minutes, you do have to have your espresso at room temperature so pull your shots earlier in the day.
- Simple syrup. Boil equal parts of water and sugar (1:1 ratio) to make simple syrup. Great to keep on hand in the fridge for your cocktails or smoothies!
- Dry shake method. Shake your wet ingredients together first for the most froth. Then add your ice and shake again.
Step by step
For one martini:
- Pull 2 oz. espresso  and allow to cool (make ahead or earlier in the day)
- Make simple syrup and cool .
- Shake espresso, vodka, Baileys and simple syrup in a chilled shaker for 30 seconds.
- Add ice and shake again for 30 more second.
- Strain into a martini glass and garnish with chocolate, peppermint sticks or coffee beans. A grating of nutmeg is beautiful too!
Help! I don't have Baileys...what else can I use?
Espresso martinis typically have Kahlua in them instead of Baileys so if you have Kahlua that works!
Can I substitute different alcohol for the vodka?
Yes you can! Tequila or rum are great choices for espresso martinis!
I don't have a shaker...any other ways to shake things up?
The key is the material and the shape so if you have a metal water bottle that would work too! I wouldn't use anything plastic as you won't get that chill or creamy texture.
Make ahead tips
To make espresso martinis ahead of time:
- Make the simple syrup up to 2 weeks ahead.
- Pull your espresso shots the day of your party and allow to cool. Refrigerate and then bring to room temp before shaking.
Storing + Reheating Tips
Store unused mixed martinis in a sealed container in the fridge for 3 days.
You can freeze leftover espresso martinis in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container for up to 2 months.
Defrost at room temperature before following shaking instructions in the recipe card.
2 Minute Espresso Martini with Baileys
For simple syrup
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
For espresso martini
- 4 oz vodka, I use Tito's; whatever you have on hand
- 2 oz espresso, can use espresso powder
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 1 oz Baileys 1 oz
- coffee beans, for garnish; see below
Make simple syrup
- Add sugar and water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar has dissolved and the syrup is clear, about 3 minutes. Cool completely.Makes 1 cup.½ cup sugar, ½ cup water
For espresso martini
- Shake all ingredients in a cold shaker first for 20-30 seconds.2 oz espresso, 1 oz simple syrup, 1 oz Baileys 1 oz
- Add ice to container about halfway and shake again for 30 seconds to chill.4 oz vodka
- Pour into a martini glass. Garnish with coffee beans, shaved chocolate or nutmeg. Small candy canes are great for the holidays too!coffee beans
StorageStore unused mixed martinis in a sealed container in the fridge for 3 days.
Freezer TipsYou can freeze leftover espresso martinis in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container for up to 2 months. Defrost at room temperature before following shaking instructions in the recipe card.
About Lori Murphy
Lori has over 30 years in the food industry as a marketing strategist, culinary instructor and chef for three kids with discerning palates. As the chief content creator at Josie + Nina, Lori is dedicated to helping home cooks create food memories through fresh ingredients and Italian flavors.
Celebrating Christmas with the family this weekend. We all really enjoyed these. Usually we need a multiple choice bar but everyone loved these martinis.
Lori Murphy says
I love that you toasted the holidays with some espresso martinis! So fun seeing the younger set embracing these cocktails from the 90's! Merry Christmas, Mary and thank you so much for taking the time to share and rate!
I got an espresso machine for my birthday and wanted to try a martini. We landed on this Bailey's Espresso Martini recipe and it was SO delicious. Thank you for the great recipe.
Lori Murphy says
You're welcome and thank you Susie for choosing to make it - I love making it with Baileys too...a little less caffeine! 😊