Bourbon Espresso Martini

A modern dark take on a modern classic

2 months ago

This is our final week talking about one of the OG of Cocktails, the Martini. However instead of the typical Gin or Vodka, Today we are going to introduce a Bourbon version of last weeks, Espresso Martini

The espresso martini gets a spicy, spiritous upgrade with the addition of bourbon whiskey in place of vodka. The bourbon's caramel and vanilla notes pair beautifully with dark, roasted espresso and sweet Kahlúa coffee liqueur. This adapted cocktail still packs the stimulating caffeine punch of a regular espresso martini but with a warm, smooth bourbon backbone.

While the origins of the traditional vodka espresso martini can be traced back to London in the 1980s, the earliest origins of the bourbon espresso martini are more elusive. Some point to pioneering bar owner Dale DeGroff who decided to substitute bourbon for vodka in his espresso cocktails in the late 1990s.

The richer, more flavorful nature of bourbon likely appealed to bartenders and cocktail aficionados looking to put a spin on the bracing espresso martini. The vanilla and oak notes of bourbon mingle sublimely with the bittersweet espresso and sweet, chocolaty Kahlúa.

Why does bourbon work so well in an espresso martini while vodka falls flat? Firstly, the flavors of sipping bourbon already complement notes found in coffee - caramel, vanilla, roasted nuts, and charred oak. These flavors mesh beautifully with the natural tastes of espresso.

Secondly, bourbon's sweetness stands up to espresso’s inherent bitterness, while still allowing the coffee flavors to shine. The sugars in bourbon balance out the tannins in espresso. Vodka is virtually flavorless in comparison.

Finally, bourbon's slightly syrupy, silky texture pairs nicely with the dense creaminess of Kahlúa liqueur. Together they create a rich, mouth-coating cocktail that still finishes clean from the espresso. The complexity of sipping bourbon elevates this drink.

Whether enjoyed as a brunch cocktail or a post-dinner treat, the bourbon espresso martini never disappoints.

Bourbon Espresso Martini



Enjoy your bourbon-fueled, caffeinated sipper!

Be sure to use a high-quality, mildly sweet bourbon that will complement the coffee and chocolate flavors. Finely crafted bourbons with vanilla and caramel notes work best. Adjust proportions to taste and shake up this energizing cocktail anytime you need a pick-me-up!

Join us next month when I will be focusing on the Spirit from the south and cocktails made from it. 

As always I am open to hear your take and your input. You can reach me at [email protected]

Brian Certain

Published 2 months ago