Growing up with a live-in-Italian grandmother meant we got to enjoy many aspects of Italian culture, one of them being good, strong espresso. My family takes coffee very seriously— I always joked I didn’t need an alarm clock because the coffee grinder told me it was time to wake up for school. Naturally, espresso martinis were in my future. 😛 This recipe for a pumpkin espresso martini is an autumn spin on a classic cocktail that you’re sure to love. As long as you are a fan of PSL season, that is.
This was inspired by my pumpkin simple syrup and my love for turning espresso into cocktails. Using a flavored simple syrup in this cocktail is a quick and easy way to customize it based on the seasons!Jump to Recipe
💕 why you'll love this pumpkin espresso martini recipe
🎃 fun & festive. Espresso martinis are well-loved for a reason, and this is a festive twist on a classic cocktail.
🙌 easy to make. Martinis, in general, are great to serve to guests because they look like they took more work to make than they did. It’ll be our little secret! 😉
🤌 crowd-pleaser. Whether you're hosting a party or just enjoying a drink to kick off the weekend, this pumpkin espresso martini is a special cocktail to enjoy throughout the fall.
- espresso - espresso is an important factor in this cocktail, so opt for quality if you can. Brewing espresso in a way that produces crema (the foam on top of the coffee) is important for producing a thick froth and velvety mouthfeel. But you can do just fine with a strongly brewed coffee flavor-wise, too. Be sure to prepare one double shot per cocktail and save some coffee beans for the garnish. You will need three per cocktail to symbolize health, wealth, and happiness!
- pumpkin simple syrup - you’ll need to use this recipe for pumpkin simple syrup if you don’t have it already prepared. The pumpkin syrup is key in giving this cocktail its seasonal flavor. It's sweet and spicy, so it is perfect for fall!
- vanilla vodka - vodka is the standard liquor of choice in a classic espresso martini, but vanilla vodka plays so nicely with the chocolate flavors in this cocktail. Think of it like when you're baking a pumpkin pie: you add vanilla extract. The same line of thought applies here!
- Kahlua liqueur - Kahlua is a rum-based coffee liqueur that is a staple ingredient in many coffee cocktails like espresso martinis, white Russians, and mudslides. It adds a layer of depth and complexity to the cocktail while playing up the coffee flavor.
- ice - you will need ice cubes for shaking this cocktail, but not for serving it. Use larger cubes of ice if you can. Larger cubes of ice will not dilute the cocktail as fast as smaller ones when you are shaking it in the cocktail shaker.
Step 1: If you choose to rim the cocktail glass, dip it in pumpkin simple syrup and give your glass a gentle shake.
Step 2: Lightly press the glass into a mix of pumpkin pie spice and sugar to rim the glass.
Step 3: Brew a double shot of espresso according to the manufacturer's instructions on your machine. Set it aside to allow it to cool slightly.
Step 4: Fill your cocktail shaker with ice, and slowly pour in the cooled espresso.
Step 5: Add the vanilla vodka to the cocktail shaker.
Step 6: Next, add the Kahlua liqueur.
Step 7: Add the pumpkin simple syrup to the cocktail shaker last.
Step 8: Shake the cocktail shaker for at least 30 seconds to get a nice, strong foam in your cocktail.
Step 9: Strain the cocktail into a coupe glass.
Step 10: Garnish with three espresso beans and a mallowcream pumpkin if you’re feeling extra festive! Serve immediately.
Hint: If you are preparing this cocktail for a party, you can brew the espresso ahead of time and combine the ingredients in a pitcher. Then, you can shake each cocktail just before serving. Measure out 6 ounces per cocktail— that’s 2 ounces of espresso and 3 ounces of the alcohol and syrup mixture.
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🍽️ serving tips
Garnishing your cocktails:
- Garnish the cocktail with three espresso beans to symbolize health, wealth, and happiness!
- If you like, you can also rim the cocktail glass using a blend of pumpkin pie spice and sugar. I like to rim half of the glass to give the option of enjoying the garnish or not.
- Mallowcream pumpkin candy is also an adorable garnish for this cocktail. Spear them with cocktail picks and lay the picks across the top of your glasses for a cute presentation!
When to serve this cocktail:
- This is the perfect cocktail to serve at an autumn brunch! It would also be a great cocktail to greet guests with on Thanksgiving!
- You can serve it at a cocktail hour before dinner or an event, or at a happy hour with friends!
- This beverage does contain caffeine, so you may want to warn guests if you are serving it later in the evening.
Choose your glass:
- The total volume of this cocktail is about 6 ounces, so choose a glass that is on the smaller side. Otherwise, your drink will look itty bitty in the glass!
- You can serve this cocktail over ice if you like, even though it’s not traditional.
- If you want to go the extra mile, chill your glasses in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before serving to keep the beverages extra cold.
ℹ️ troubleshooting tips
- foam - If you aren’t using espresso made in an espresso machine, it may not froth properly. This is because only properly brewed espresso has crema, the velvety foam top that makes an espresso martini frothy. If you are using cold brew or regular drip coffee, you may need to shake your espresso martini in the shaker for up to 60 seconds to get it to froth properly. The foam on a cocktail made with cold brew or drip coffee may also dissipate more quickly.
- too sweet - If the martini is too sweet, reduce the amount of pumpkin simple syrup in the recipe.
- too strong - If the martini is too strong, you can reduce the amount of vodka or Kahlúa in the recipe.
⚖️ Scaling Tips
This recipe can be scaled up easily for a party!
- To make a pitcher of espresso martinis, you can combine all ingredients in a pitcher, then shake each cocktail as it’s time to serve.
- Shaking the cocktails before serving allows you to create the layer of foam for each cocktail. If you didn’t get it by now, that foam is an important part of this cocktail! 🤣
🔆 top tip
Shake your cocktail vigorously for at least 30 seconds to get a nice, thick foamy layer to it!
Missing an ingredient? No problem. Check out these tried-and-true substitutions, or comment below with your question. I’m here to help you troubleshoot!
- rum - substitute vanilla rum in this cocktail for vodka for a rum-based cocktail.
- no pumpkin pie spice - If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, you can use a mix of cinnamon and sugar instead.
- cold brew - substitute cold brew coffee for espresso if you don’t have an espresso maker!
Feeling like a rebel?! 😈 Feel free to stray from the recipe card using these variations, or leave me a comment with your own!
- mocktail - you can make a mocktail version of this pumpkin espresso martini by leaving the alcohol out and substituting water, milk, or cream.
- creamy - add in the milk or cream of your choice for a velvety, creamy take on this cocktail.
- extra pumpkiny- use a pumpkin liqueur for an extra pumpkin twist on this cocktail.
- frozen - freeze your espresso into espresso ice cubes, then blend the ice cubes with the liquor and simple syrup for a frosty frozen martini cocktail!
🧰 equipment needed
- cocktail shaker - Even though I like to take photos using clear shakers, when I’m mixing up drinks at home, I only use this cocktail shaker by Elevated Craft. It’s double-walled, so your hands don’t get cold while shaking, and it has measurements in the cap.
- coupe glass - The standard glass for an espresso martini is a coupe glass, not a martini glass. This is because martini glasses tend to be larger than coupe glasses.
- measuring beakers - I love using these OXO nesting measuring beakers because you can use them for so many more recipes besides cocktails. They’re perfect for measuring small amounts of liquid!
This cocktail is best enjoyed right after it is mixed.
You can prepare this cocktail in a large batch ahead of time, and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to shake and serve it.
You can use cold brew or strongly brewed coffee instead of espresso if you don’t have an espresso maker. You can also buy espresso from your local coffee shop to make this cocktail if you don’t have a machine!
Khalua is the coffee liqueur of choice for an espresso martini, and it’s what is used in this pumpkin espresso martini cocktail.
Yes, you can. You can add in 0.5 - 1 ounce of pumpkin liqueur for each cocktail.
If you make this recipe, please leave a review in the comments and a star rating!
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Pumpkin Espresso Martini
- 2 ounces espresso
- 2 ounces vanilla vodka
- 1 ounce pumpkin simple syrup
- 1 ounce Khalua coffee liqueur
- espresso beans for garnish
- pumpkin spice sugar mix optional, for garnish
- If you choose to rim the cocktail glass, dip it in pumpkin simple syrup and give your glass a gentle shake.
- Lightly press the glass into a mix of pumpkin pie spice and sugar to rim the glass.
- Brew a double shot of espresso according to the manufacturers instructions of your machine. Set it aside to allow it to cool slightly.
- Fill your cocktail shaker with ice, and slowly pour in the cooled espresso.
- Add in the vanilla vodka to the cocktail shaker.
- Next, add in the Kahlua liqueur.
- Add the pumpkin simple syrup to the cocktail shaker last.
- Shake the cocktail shaker for at least 30 seconds to get a nice, strong foam in your cocktail.
- Strain the cocktail into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with three espresso beans, and a mallowcream pumpkin if you’re feeling extra festive! Serve immediately.
🧯food safety & other information
Food safety is an important ingredient in any recipe for success! Here are some tips to keep you safe in the kitchen!
- Always enjoy alcohol responsibly, and never give alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age. For more information about responsible alcohol consumption, click here.
- Espresso can be very hot when brewed, reaching temperatures of over 200ºF. Use caution when handling hot beverages.