This creamy espresso martini is made without Baileys. It is made with vodka, coffee liqueur (or Kahlua), espresso, and a splash of oat milk to make it a little sweeter and richer than the classic recipe. It's a perfect coffee cocktail enjoyed after dinner or at a holiday celebration.
Espresso martinis are having a moment, and I'm here for it! It's the perfect drink for coffee lovers. This classic cocktail was invented in the 1980s and combines vodka, coffee liqueur, and espresso. It has a thick layer of foam and is traditionally garnished with 3 espresso beans to represent health, wellness, and happiness.
Espresso martinis are naturally dairy free, but I wanted to create a creamier version to enjoy. Lots of creamy espresso martini recipes are made with Baileys Irish cream, but I chose to make mine with no Baileys to keep the alcohol content a little lower. Instead, I've used oat milk to make this libation a little more luscious.
Why You'll Love This
- Dessert cocktail- Espresso martinis are sweet, smooth, and indulgent. It's a classic to have for date night, a holiday party, or after a nice dinner.
- No Baileys- A splash of oat milk adds richness and mellows out the alcohol with no dairy.
- Creamy and foamy- This cocktail is super creamy! It has a thick layer of velvety foam (or crema), which has to be the best part of any espresso martini. This recipe will teach you how to achieve a perfectly foamy top every time.
Watch How to Make This Recipe
Here are some notes about the ingredients used. You only need a few! For quantities, see the recipe card below.
- Vodka- Any brand of vodka works for this recipe. Choose whatever you think tastes best! You could also try using vanilla vodka or another flavored vodka.
- Coffee liqueur- Coffee liqueur is made from steeping espresso beans in aged rum and adding sugar. Kahlua and Tia Maria are brands of coffee liqueur that are commonly used in espresso martinis and other coffee cocktails, but you can use any brand. Again, choose what you think tastes best! I personally love supporting smaller distilleries; some of my favorites are Great Lakes Distillery, Koval, and Cardinal Spirits.
- Espresso- If you have an espresso machine, use a freshly pulled shot. If not, instant espresso powder works as well. Decaf espresso is an option too if you're wanting less caffeine.
- Oat milk- Oat milk is super creamy compared to other alternative milks. It also has naturally occurring sugar from the oats, making it the perfect way to sweeten up this cocktail.
- Optional garnishes- I topped my martini with a dusting of cocoa powder and a few espresso beans! You can also use espresso powder, cinnamon, shaved chocolate, or chocolate syrup as garnishes.
- Vodka: Substitute vodka with clear alcohol, like gin, rum, or blanco tequila. Each will change the flavor slightly.
- Espresso: If you don't have espresso or espresso powder, strongly brewed coffee or cold brew concentrate work well. Instant coffee can also be substituted in.
- Oat milk: Substitute any dairy free milk for the oat milk. My favorite is full fat coconut milk but almond milk is good too. If you aren't vegan or dairy free, you can use heavy cream, half and half, or whole milk.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
- Jigger- This is a double-sided tool to measure your liquids. If you don't have a one, use a small measuring cup.
- Cocktail shaker- If you don't have a cocktail shaker, use a mason jar with a tight fitting lid.
- Strainer- Most cocktail shakers include a Hawthorne strainer. Use a small mesh strainer if you don't have one.
- Coupe glasses- These glasses are a super elegant way to serve your drinks. You can also use them to serve Manhattans, daiquiris, and champagne.
Step by Step Instructions
Here are the steps to make a creamy espresso martini.
STEP 1. First, brew your espresso. Then add a few ice cubes to your coupe glass to chill it. Then, fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice. Use large ice cubes if you can.
STEP 2. Pour the vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso, and oat milk over the ice.
STEP 3. Close the cocktail shaker tightly. Then, shake hard and vigorously for about 30 seconds. This is important to get a good amount of foam!
STEP 4. Toss the ice cubes out of your coupe glass into the sink. Then, with a Hawthorne or mesh strainer, strain the cocktail into the glass. Double strain if needed to remove ice crystals.
STEP 5. Garnish your espresso martini with espresso beans, cocoa powder, caramel syrup, or whatever you like!
- Use large ice cubes. Small ice cubes have a tendency to melt more and can also make it past the strainer. Large ones are best!
- Shake, shake, shake! Shake your cocktail shaker for 20-30 seconds. Your hands should be super cold! The more you shake, the more the natural acids of the coffee mix with the air bubbles, and the more foam you get.
- Drink immediately after straining. If you wait to drink your martini, the foam will go down and the drinking experience will be a little lackluster.
How to Make a Foamy Espresso Martini
The protein in the coffee combined with a vigorous shake is what creates an espresso martini's signature thick foamy layer of crema. There are two tips to follow to make sure you get it right every time:
- Use freshly brewed espresso. Freshly brewed espresso as crema (foam that comes out of the espresso machine) that helps make a thick foamy top. If fresh brewed espresso isn't an option, consider using flash frozen coffee like Cometeer. The crema is present in these pods after they're thawed!
- Shake vigorously! Fill your shaker half way with ice and shake hard for a few seconds longer than you think you need; I usually do 30 seconds. Your hands should be super cold! Shaking aerates the ingredients, lets the natural proteins and oils of the coffee combine with the air bubbles, and causes foam to form. Use large ice cubes and don't dry shake!
There are several different fun ways to customize this recipe.
- Hazelnut- Use Frangelico instead of coffee liqueur for a little Nutella flavor.
- Vanilla- Use vanilla vodka to mimic and vanilla latte. Whipped cream vodka is also an option.
- Rum- For island latte vibes, use rum instead of vodka.
- Caramel- Coat the rim of your coupe glass in caramel, use caramel vodka, and drizzle caramel sauce on top to feel like you're drinking a caramel macchiato.
I recommend drinking espresso martinis right away, maybe even served with these coffee cupcakes. If you store leftovers in the refrigerator, the foam will deflate and the espresso flavor will start to deteriorate.
If you absolutely need to make some drinks ahead of time, I recommend stirring the ingredients (without ice) together in a mason jar and storing for less than 24 hours. When you're ready, pour the mixture into a cocktail shaker with ice, shake, and serve. I can't guarantee the results or quality of the foam you'll get!
Frequently Asked Questions
There is 67g of caffeine per serving in this recipe. That is less than 1 cup of coffee (74g). It won't keep you up all night long, but I recommend drinking your martini earlier in the evening or right after dinner.
Either work well. If the espresso is hot, use a little more ice in your shaker since it could melt the ice and dilute your drink.
Yes! You can double, triple, or quadruple the recipe to make espresso martinis for a crowd. Everyone will love them.
Nope. Since it's made without gin and vermouth, it's not a classic martini. But it's delicious regardless!
More Drinks to Try
Creamy Espresso Martini
- 2 oz vodka
- 1 oz coffee liqueur
- 1 oz espresso or strong coffee
- 1 oz oat milk
- 3 coffee beans optional garnish
- Brew a shot of espresso. Then fill the cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add a few ice cubes to your coupe or martini glass to chill it.
- Pour the vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso, and oat milk into the cocktail shaker over the ice.2 oz vodka, 1 oz coffee liqueur, 1 oz espresso, 1 oz oat milk
- Close the cocktail shaker tightly. Shake vigorously for about 20-30 seconds until the shaker feels ice cold.
- Dump the ice out of your martini glass and strain the cocktail into the glass. Garnish with espresso beans, cocoa powder, or shaved chocolate and enjoy.3 coffee beans