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Decaf Espresso Martini Recipe

The Espresso Martini has carved quite a name for itself in the modern cocktail canon. Invented by British cocktail maestro Dick Bradsell in the 1980s, the drink was originally dubbed simply the Espresso Vodka. 

The story goes that Bradsell created the drink on the spot while tending bar. A model came into the bar and ordered “something that will wake me up and f*ck me up.” Bradsell, no stranger to inventing modern standards like the Bramble, created another classic at that moment by shaking up espresso, vodka, coffee liqueur, and sugar. 

Its popularity grew from there, and the snappier moniker Espresso Martini soon came to be the drink’s name. The drink spread internationally, and has undergone a new wave of popularity since Bradsell’s untimely death in 2016.

But the Espresso Martini does present one problem: it has a major dose of caffeine. Not everyone wants to slam a shot of espresso after finishing a meal. Moreover, caffeine and alcohol are notably unhealthy bedfellows. It has been well documented that this combination can cause drinkers to feel less inebriated than they truly are, leading to overindulgence and poor decision making.

Fortunately, a delicious Decaf Espresso Martini can be in your hands with just a few simple steps!

The Coffee Liqueur

Coffee liqueur is a crucial ingredient in the Espresso Martini. This leaves the discerning decaf drinker with a question: how much caffeine is really in coffee liqueur? The answer is a little more complicated than you might think.

The short answer is, yes, coffee liqueur almost always has caffeine. The amount of caffeine is usually quite small, however. Kahlua reports that a standard 1.5 ounce pour of Kahlua contains 5 mgs of caffeine. Our recipe calls for ¾ ounce coffee liqueur, so if you used Kahlua, you would be adding 2.5 mgs of caffeine.A cup of caffeinated coffee usually contains 80 – 100 mgs of caffeine in comparison. 

Fortunately, there are a few options for a  truly decaffeinated coffee liqueur. Richardo’s Decaf Coffee Liqueur is a delicious option, and to our knowledge the only widely available decaf coffee liqueur on the market.

Alternatively, you can also make your own decaf coffee liqueur! While it takes some planning ahead, making your own coffee liqueur is an easy and fun way to upgrade your wet bar.

Whatever your decision, once you have your coffee liqueur chosen, the rest of the steps are easy. 

Choose Your Vodka & Your Espresso

Your vodka and espresso choices are important here. Avoid using a low-quality vodka; it doesn’t matter how many other ingredients you have, a bad spirit can sink any drink. There’s no need to break the bank either, go with something dependable like Kettel One.

As far as the espresso, go with whatever decaf option you’d like! Some recipes call for cold brew concentrate in place of freshly brewed espresso, but concentrate won’t give you the same frothy head that a shot of espresso will. Concentrate will certainly work in a pinch, but for the full effect brew up a fresh shot.

Shake Shake

With our three core ingredients at hand, we’re just about ready. Our recipe also recommends adding ½ ounce of simple syrup (1:1 water to sugar) to boost the overall sweetness. Omit this if you prefer a dryer cocktail.

While the classic Martini is stirred (sorry James Bond), the Espresso Martini must be shaken. This is what gives the drink its characteristic frothy texture. Give it a good long shake so that the drink has a clear head when poured into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Garnish with espresso beans if desired, and enjoy!

Decaf Espresso Martini


  • 2 ounces vodka

  • 1 ounce freshly brewed espresso

  • ¾ ounce coffee liqueur (we recommend Richardo’s Decaf Coffee Liqueur)

  • ½ ounce simple syrup*

  • 3 espresso beans for garnish (optional)


  • Place a cocktail glass such a coupe or a martini glass in the freezer to chill.
  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  • Vigorously shake for at least 20 seconds.
  • Remove glass from freezer.
  • Strain contents of the cocktail shaker into the chilled glass.
  • Garnish with espresso beans.


  • To make simple syrup, combine equal parts water and sugar in a small pot and stir over medium heat until completely dissolved. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to two months in the fridge.

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