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A Clear Espresso Martini - An Impossible Cocktail?

A clear espresso martini cocktail besides a classic espresso martini

Hi, Friends of Cocktails! What comes to your mind when thinking of a creamy, robust, and luxurious cocktail, full of caffeinated goodness? Yes, today we’re making Espresso Martinis. But instead of the classic, we’ll create a version with none of the color and all of the flavor - a Clear Espresso Martini. So if you’re into discovering new trends, techniques and recipes to elevate your cocktail game, today’s cocktail is for you. 

Now, even though I’ve made plenty of Espresso Martinis on Cocktail Time before, like the Nitro Espresso Martini or my favorite version with tequila all the way back in episode 2, I’ve never made the classic. So let’s start with Dick Bradsell’s recipe from the 80’s to have something to compare the Clear version to. It’s Cocktail Time!

A hand reaching for a bottle of coffee oil washed vodka

Espresso Martini

● 45mL · 1.5oz Vodka 

● 30mL · 1oz Mr. Black

● 1 shot Freshly Brewed Espresso

● 7.5mL · 0.25oz Rich Demerara Syrup

● 2 drops 20% Saline Solution

Let’s start with a chilled shaker into which we’ll add our ingredients. Now add ice, shake hard to chill and dilute, and really froth up the coffee, then double strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with 3 coffee beans, to represent health, wealth and happiness, then you’re ready to give this a try.

Coffee dominates every aspect - the aroma, taste, and the finish. It's creamy, rich, and popular for a reason. To turn it from classic to clear though, we’ll need a new ingredient: Coffee-oil-washed Vodka. This technique was developed by Rich Woods, aka The Cocktail Guy, for a clear, Martini version of the Espresso Martini. He was working with flavored oil as a garnish, and realized he could use that oil to impart flavor to a spirit without adding color. That led to coffee-oil-washed vodka.


So when I saw his technique my mind went straight to a clear, but still creamy version of the Espresso Martini, adding our Homemade Cacao Liqueur, which will boost the coffee notes in the cocktail, simple syrup for the sweetness and Super Foam to give us the frothiness we expect in an Espresso Martini - and of course, saline solution. Now let’s go over how to make Coffee Washed Vodka, starting with our odd ingredient, coffee oil.

Coffee Oil

● 100g Freshly Ground Coffee

● 200g Neutral Flavored Oil

Add both ingredients to a blender and blend for about 30-60 seconds, then let this mixture infuse for 6 hours or overnight for a stronger flavor. As Rich notes, it’s best to let this infuse in the fridge to ensure it stays fresh, and once infused it’s time to filter out the coffee. I tried using a coffee filter and a cloth filter, but paper towels actually work best. Take this as a little hack, that, in a pinch, a paper towel works just fine in your chemex, just fold it into shape and maybe clamp it to the sides.

This may take some time to filter though, but no rush, leave it do its thing overnight. We’re not looking for the best possible yield, but the most flavor, so to avoid having a messy situation, we’re not squeezing this filter, but just discarding it. We’ll then measure the amount of oil we ended up with, because we’ll need it to create our Coffee Washed Vodka. 

Coffee Washed Vodka

● 120mL · 4oz Coffee Oil 

● 400mL · 13.33oz Vodka

Add 50mL of vodka for every 15mL of Coffee Oil, and pour everything into a sous vide bag that we’ll double seal. As you know, a sous-vide gives you the most control over temperature and time, providing the best environment for optimal infusion, so we’re placing this into a sous vide bath set to 55°C or 120°F  for 2 hours. You can try to replicate the sous vide bath with a half filled saucepan on a stove too, but it’s not as easy to control the temperature that way. 

Once done, let it cool slightly, then place it in the freezer for the oil to harden. Once it thickens we can cut open the bag and strain our Coffee-oil-washed Vodka through a coffee filter, but for the best result you’ll want to keep the oil as cold as possible so place it in the fridge while it filters. Now all that’s left is to bottle it, add a label, and we’re ready to make the cocktail. 

As mentioned, Rich used this coffee vodka to make a true Martini-styled cocktail with vermouth, creme de cacao, and sherry, but I wanted to use the coffee notes we have in our still clear vodka, and also keep the decadent mouthfeel of the classic Espresso Martini. So let’s make a Clear Espresso Martini.

Clear Espresso Martini

● 52.5mL · 1.75oz Coffee Vodka 

● 22.5mL · 0.75oz Super Foam

● 15mL · 0.5oz Simple Syrup

● 7.5mL · 0.25oz White Creme de Cacao

● 1 dash saline

Start by chilling the shaker, and as always, have a glass chilling in the freezer - we’re going with a coupe for this one. Then add your ingredients into the shaker, but instead of a dry shake I’m using one of the hacks I shared recently: grab a milk frother, or even a stick blender, and froth up your cocktail before you add the ice into the shaker, at which point you’ll still shake it hard to chill and dilute. Double strain into our chilled glass, to keep out any ice particles, and garnish the cocktail with 3 coffee beans once again.

Even though you get a visual clue from the garnish, the aroma is what really gives it away before you take a sip. Coffee quickly takes over, with cacao working more as a supporting player, which was the goal in this creamy concoction. It's a fantastic experiment we'll surely use again on the channel. Thank you for the brilliant idea, Rich!

With that we’ve made it to the Bottom of The Glass, and apeaking of coffee, did you know that coffee is the number 3 most consumed beverage in the world, behind only water and tea. So if you’re looking to mix coffee in your next cocktail, I have a playlist for Friends of Coffee, check it out here. Until next time, cheers!

1 Comment

Where can I find that glassware?

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