The Best Espresso Martini Recipe

By Eric Twardzik · 10/18/2019

To say that the Espresso Martini at Yvonne’s is popular is a bit of an understatement. According to beverage director Bruno Prado, the Downtown Crossing hangout goes through four liters of fresh espresso on a typical Friday or Saturday night.

Yet Yvonne’s hasn’t reinvented the cocktail. Made from a fairly standard template, their version includes vodka, Kahlúa, and espresso, plus a bit of house-made vanilla syrup. What sets it apart is the freshness of the espresso and the lack of Irish cream.

Prado only makes the drink with fresh espresso but doesn’t add it until it reaches room temperature. Anything hotter would melt the ice, diluting the cocktail. That’s convenient for making the drink at home; if you don’t own an espresso machine, just pick up a shot at a nearby coffee shop and allow it to cool on your walk home.

The absence of Irish cream allows the espresso’s flavor to shine through, making for a coffee-forward cocktail that’s decidedly less sweet. “That way, people are able to get the drink all night, not just for dessert,” Prado says.

However, the frothiness resulting from a good shake confounds the occasional drinker. “Some people think there’s cream in it, but that’s just the froth on top,” Prado says.

Espresso Martini
1½ ounces vodka (Prado uses Reyka Vodka)
1 ounce espresso (preferably fresh and at room temperature)
¾ ounce Kahlúa
¼ ounce vanilla syrup*

Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe or martini glass.

*You can make vanilla syrup at home by combining equal parts water and sugar, plus a dash of fresh vanilla bean (Prado uses a whole bean for every 4 quarts of water). Simmer the water and vanilla bean together for 15 minutes before stirring in the sugar. It keeps, refrigerated for about 2 weeks.

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