Non-alcoholic Espresso Martini — but make it fancy

Nov 04, 2022

Currently reigning as one of the world’s most popular cocktails, the Espresso Martini is featured on cocktail menus in some of the best bars on the planet. Likewise, the non-alcoholic Espresso Martini has become one of the most searched-for non-alcoholic cocktail recipes on my site. It is a true modern classic and it’s easy to see why — it’s fun, it’s delicious and with that caffeine hit, it’s also a bit of a pick-me-up! So it doesn’t surprise me that the Espresso Martini was invented during the late 80s party scene.

An espresso martini next to a ms sans bottle

According to the story, the Espresso Martini recipe was born when a young model sashayed up to legendary barman Dick Bradsell for something that would, “wake me up.” In answer to her call, Bradsell whipped up the drink that we all now know and love.

While the Espresso Martini has edgy origins, these days I prefer a much fancier, non-alcoholic Espresso Martini, especially when I’m aiming to impress. If you are planning to serve Espresso Martinis at a special celebration, then this guide will help you create mocktails with both style and substance.

What’s in an Espresso Martini?

Traditionally, Espresso Martini ingredients feature Vodka, Coffee Liqueur, fresh Espresso and a dash of sugar syrup. It’s easy to mix up a non-alcoholic version using products like Ms Sans Make Me A Sanstini a non-alcoholic vodka — or if like me, you prefer to keep things simple, Ms Sans Espresso Martini, which is premixed.

Choose your flavour variation

Once you have your base, you can start trying different flavour variations. Try adding a dash of non-alcoholic whisky such as Sans Bar Kings of Tartan to your shaker to turn your Espresso Martini into a Whiskey mocktail. Or how about an Espresso Rumtini? Just add a dash of non-alcoholic rum to your Espresso Martini ingredients.

Another tried and tested variation is the Baileys Espresso Martini, which you can create using non-alcoholic Irish Cream. My personal favourite Espresso Martini recipe? I’d have to go for a Salted Caramel Espresso Martini, which you can make by adding a dash of salted caramel syrup to your shaker.

Choose your garnish

According to the traditional Espresso Martini recipe, the standard garnish is three coffee beans, said to represent health, wealth and happiness. But there are lots of other options that will elevate both the look and taste of your mocktail.

If you are in the mood for decadence, try some dark chocolate shavings and here’s a personal tip; the more you add, the more chocolatey your Espresso Martini becomes — yum! If you are sweet-toothed, you might like a sugar hit in the form of sprinkles — these work best around the rim of your glass (think salt-rimmed Margarita glass).

When I really want to impress, I go all out and garnish my Espresso Martini with a couple of toasted marshmallows. Just pop your marshmallows under the grill for a moment (keep a close eye on them!). Add your toasted marshmallows to a skewer and lay it across the top of your glass.

Choose your vessel

While traditionally the Espresso Martini has been served in a coupe or martini glass, switching up your glassware is an easy way to elevate your mocktail. Shop around for a glass that speaks to you — perhaps a vintage champagne flute or an art deco cocktail glass.

The perfect crema

One of the most important elements of any Espresso Martini recipe is the crema. You can create this by ensuring you use a cocktail shaker. Add your Espresso Martini ingredients to your shaker along with a handful of ice — shake vigorously for 15 to 30 seconds — this will allow the natural oil in the coffee to meet the air in the shaker and form the crema. Make sure you pour immediately so the foam doesn't have time to break down. Use a strainer to catch the ice. 

Complement the overall presentation

While experimenting with the different elements of your Espresso Martini will elevate your cocktail, it’s also worth thinking about the overall presentation as this can take your drinking experience from a 7 to a 10.

For me, this means pairing a tray of Espresso Martinis with a truly indulgent dessert board with treats such as biscotti, brownies and vanilla cheesecake, all of which beautifully complements the flavour and mouthfeel of the Espresso Martini. If you’re more into savoury snacks, I can recommend an extravagant cheese board with freshly baked crostini, olives and bruschetta.

I hope this guide will inspire you to try something new. And, if you’re looking for more cocktail inspo, have a look at my mocktail section where you will find non-alcoholic cocktail recipes that are guaranteed to hit the spot!

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