Espresso Martini Cocktail

Espresso Martini Cocktail: Origin, Ingredients & Variants

It’s no wonder that the Espresso Martini has been called the United Kingdom’s favourite cocktail…It has all the elements of a true modern classic: alcohol, caffeine, and an irresistible origin story. What more do you need for a good start to your evening out, or in? 

Who Invented the Espresso Martini?

While the Espresso Martini is a classic now enjoyed all over the world, its origin is relatively recent. Even so, there are multiple claims about who invented the Espresso Martini and even the widely accepted version is a bit mysterious.

The cocktail is most commonly attributed to a bartender named Dick Bradsell, who is famous for reviving the cocktail scene in London when it was in a bit of a rut after the 1930s.

Bradsell trained as a mixologist in the 1970s and was not only masterful at serving traditional cocktails, he also invented a number of new ones, including the Treacle, the Bramble, and the Russian Spring Punch.

Then, one fateful day in London at either Fred’s Club or the Soho Brasserie (depending on who you ask) in the 1980s, a model walked up to the bar. She asked Bradsell for a drink that would both wake her up and give her a good time. 

Bradsell mixed vodka with an espresso from the bar’s coffee machine to create the first version of what was then called the Vodka Espresso.

While the name of the supermodel is a secret that Bradsell has taken to the grave, he stated that she became very famous and many believe it may have been Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell. However, some cocktail historians argue that both models would have been too young at the time of Bradsell’s invention, while others believe it was not a famous model but, in fact, an ordinary woman. We’ll never know the entire truth, but the rest, as they say, is history.

Espresso Martini

The History of the Espresso Martini

Bradsell spent a lot of time tinkering with the drink, improving the texture and trying out different coffee liqueurs to balance the flavour.

Eventually, it made its first appearance on a menu in 1997 at Match EC1, where Bradsell worked.

The drink changed names more than once, being called the Pharmaceutical Stimulant by Bradsell for a time before finally settling on “Espresso Martini” because of the V-shaped glass it was served in during the 1990s.

By then, Bradsell was so influential in the cocktail scene that the drink grew in popularity very quickly. It became one of the most ordered drinks, even in bars that didn’t have it on the menu. Soon, the Espresso Martini made its way to Australia and, finally, the rest of the world. 

Espresso Martini Ingredients

The Espresso Martini typically contains:

  • 1/3 parts vodka
  • 2/3 parts coffee liqueur (Kahlua and Tia Maria are popular options)
  • 2/3 parts espresso coffee
  • Ice
  • 3 whole coffee beans (optional for garnish)

Alternatively, our ready-to-drink Espresso Martini Cocktail marries silky Ketel One Vodka with FAIR Cafe Liqueur to create a sumptuous cocktail with a luscious mouthfeel. 

Premixed Espresso Martini

Variations of the Espresso Martini

Just like any other cocktail, there are many different variations on the classic recipe that can make it sweeter, smoother, or more intense. These are some of our favourites:

Espresso Martini with Sugar Syrup

Depending on the coffee liqueur used, you may want to add a touch of sugar syrup as a sweetener. Kahlua is already sweetened so you don’t necessarily need extra sugar syrup, but it depends on your palate (Dick Bradsell’s version included both Kahlua and sugar syrup). You can buy or make your own sugar syrup by diluting sugar in boiling water at a 1:1 ratio.

Salted Caramel Espresso Martini

Anyone who likes to add caramel to their coffee will be familiar with this version. Simply melt salted caramel sauce into the coffee and let it cool before pouring the mixture into the cocktail shaker. Alternatively, you can mix coffee, caramel, and salt flakes directly in the shaker.

Rum Espresso Martini

Even if this cocktail was once called the Vodka Espresso, that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to vodka only. You can intensify your drink by swapping out the vodka for rum, with equal parts coffee, liqueur, and sugar syrup.

Chocolate Espresso Martini

The Chocolate Espresso Martini, also called Mocha Espresso Martini, incorporates a chocolate liqueur or creme de cacao alongside the coffee to make a creamier, chocolatey drink. You can garnish with chocolate syrup, chocolate shavings, cocoa powder, or even all three combined if you have a sweet tooth!


If these options don’t satisfy your cravings, why not browse our premium premixed vodka cocktails for more inspiration?

If you’re looking to personalise your bar with your favourites, build your own box from our menu of crafted cocktails.