Philadelphia, PA - So what is an espresso martini? Well, that depends on who you ask. There are so many variations of this drink out there that there isn't a generally accepted recipe. The only consistent ingredients are espresso and vodka, and even then, the espresso is sometimes substituted with coffee or even instant coffee crystals.
The best espresso martinis are usually made with real espresso. If you're making one at home, be sure to let it cool to room temperature before adding it to your cocktail shaker. Using ice to cool down your espresso will give you watered down espresso.
The vodka in an espresso martini is almost always of the flavored variety. The most popular option is using a vanilla vodka and adding a coffee liqueur. But now there are espresso flavored vodkas available as well. Whether you use unflavored vodka, vanilla or espresso just remember that you don't want to use gin. It's true that martinis are made with gin, but it doesn't taste great when mixed with espresso.
Once the vodka and the espresso are added, this is where all the variations come into play. Some people like to add a splash of Grand Marnier, while other recipes call for Tia Maria or Amaretto. Even chocolate liqueurs can be added if you prefer the taste of a mochaccino to a regular espresso. If you like the taste of one of these liqueurs and you think it will go with your espresso martini then give it a try. Whatever you choose, be sure only to use a splash because the primary purpose of this additional liqueur is to add a just hint of flavor. You don't want to overpower the fundamental characteristics of the martini.
The one thing that almost all espresso martini recipes agree on is the garnish. Three espresso beans will top your drink off correctly. The rules for garnishes say that odd amounts are lucky, so go with one, three, or five beans.
Espresso martinis are becoming more and more popular, no matter how they are made. Whether you're a regular at your local coffee house or that swanky martini bar in the city, why not order an espressotini the next time you're looking for a new and unusual drink.