As someone who has been making cocktails at home for over a decade, getting creative and giving classic cocktails a twist becomes a part of the job. 😉 This rum espresso martini recipe puts a new spin on a cocktail that’s become a true classic: the espresso martini. Strong, bold espresso mingles with a home-infused rum (or you can use a store-bought option!) for a fresh take on an iconic drink.
This recipe was inspired by my vanilla infused rum recipe, which is a super simple way to level up your at-home cocktail game. When it’s used in this espresso martini, the warm and smooth flavor of the infused rum plays up the flavors of the espresso and Kahlua liqueurs. It also uses this brown sugar simple syrup recipe, which is perfect for adding a toasty caramelized flavor to cocktails!Jump to Recipe
💕 why you'll love this rum espresso martini recipe
🍹 rum based twist. Rum has been making quite a comeback, especially in cocktails. A lot of people also don’t realize that Khalua, which is in most espresso martini recipes, is a rum-based liqueur!
🔀 customizable. You can customize this cocktail to your liking, making it the vanilla infused rum or another dark or spiced rum. This means it’s perfect for a variety of guests at your next party! You can also freeze the espresso into espresso ice cubes and make this cocktail frozen.
🤌 well-balanced. Rum and coffee go so well together because many rums are made using sugarcane. The espresso and rum are balanced by the deep flavors of vanilla and brown sugar simple syrup. It’s a match made in heaven!
- 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.
- vanilla infused rum - I love using homemade liquor infusions whenever I can in cocktails because it takes the flavor to the next level. You do not have to use your own infused rum for this cocktail. If you can find vanilla rum at your local liquor store, feel free to use that! Otherwise, I recommend using a good, dark rum for this recipe. Brands like Ten to One, Havana Club, or Hamilton have some of my favorite dark rums! You can also use a spiced rum for a spicy twist!
- Kahlua - Khalua is a rum-based coffee liqueur that is used in a variety of coffee cocktails. It works perfectly in this espresso martini reinvention because it helps play up the flavor of the rum. You can use another rum-based coffee liqueur if you like. Sometimes I like to add a little more luxury by using Koloa coffee rum.
- brown sugar simple syrup - brown sugar simple syrup adds a wonderfully complex flavor to this cocktail. You can also use regular simple syrup. Or, you can use another flavor like vanilla simple syrup to play up the vanilla flavor. In a pinch, you can use 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar per cocktail in place of simple syrup.
- ice - you’ll need ice for shaking your cocktails in the cocktail shaker. Opt for larger ice cubes if possible so that your cocktail doesn’t dilute as you’re shaking it.
Step 1: 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 2: Fill your cocktail shaker with ice, and slowly pour in the cooled espresso.
Step 3: Add the vanilla infused rum to the cocktail shaker.
Step 4: Next, add the Kahlua liqueur.
Step 5: Add the dark brown sugar simple syrup to the cocktail shaker last.
Step 6: Shake the cocktail shaker for at least 30 seconds to get a nice, strong foam in your cocktail. Then, strain the cocktail into a coupe glass. Garnish with three espresso beans and serve immediately.
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🍽️ serving tips
How and Where to Serve Your Rum Espresso Martinis:
- Brunch or holiday breakfast - this is a great cocktail for a holiday breakfast or brunch!
- Happy hour - espresso martinis are the perfect cocktails for happy hour, because they provide a little pick-me-up from the long workday.
Choose your Glass:
- The traditional glass for an espresso martini is either a martini glass or a coupe glass.
- Make sure your glass is on the smaller side— this cocktail is small but mighty at only around 6 ounces in volume, so a larger martini glass could leave you with a “glass half-full” kinda feeling. 😅
- If you like, you can serve your cocktail on ice. Sure, it’s less traditional, but it could be a good option for a party.
- The official garnish of an espresso martini is three espresso beans, to symbolize health, wealth, and happiness.
- When shaken vigorously, a nice foam layer forms on top of your martini so you can layer the beans on top of the foam.
- You can also rim your cocktail glass with a little brown sugar simple syrup and then dip it into vanilla sugar, or a mix of ground espresso and sugar, for another garnish!
ℹ️ troubleshooting tips
If things didn’t go according to plan, don’t worry! Try one of these fixes.
- too sweet - if your cocktail is too sweet, try adding a bit more espresso or rum.
- not sweet enough - if your cocktail is bitter or too strong, add in more dark brown sugar simple syrup to balance things out.
- not enough liquid in the glass - if your glass is too large for your cocktails, you have a few options. You can either double the recipe per glass, or you can add a bit of cream, milk, or water to make the cocktail larger. You can also serve the cocktail over ice. Shh…I won’t tell. 🤫
⚖️ Scaling Tips
Espresso martinis are super easy to scale up if you’re having a party.
You can mix all the ingredients together in a pitcher, stash it in the fridge, then shake and serve the cocktails as your guests arrive.
In order to keep the frothy foam layer on the cocktails, it’s best to shake them just before serving.
🔆 top tip
Kahlua is a rum-based coffee liqueur, which is why swapping the classic vodka for vanilla-infused rum works so well in this reimagined cocktail!
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!
- liquor - if you don’t have time to infuse your own rum, you can use store-bought vanilla rum or spiced rum instead. Vanilla vodka is also a great option to use in this cocktail!
- simple syrup - switch out the flavor of simple syrup you use to give your cocktail a different flavor. You can use regular simple syrup or a seasonal flavor of syrup for a holiday twist.
- cold brew - if you don’t have access to an espresso maker, you can use cold brew coffee in this cocktail with good results!
Feeling like a rebel?! 😈 Feel free to stray from the recipe card using these variations, or leave me a comment with your own!
- chocolate - Follow the recipe for this chocolate espresso martini, but use the vanilla rum and dark brown sugar simple syrup to give your cocktail a deeper rum taste!
- creamy - add in an ounce or two of cream or milk of your choice for a rich and creamy cocktail.
- frozen - freeze the espresso into espresso ice cubes, then add all the ingredients to a blender for a frozen take on this 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!
- espresso machine - You’ll need a way to make espresso for this beverage, but that doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend $1,000 on an espresso machine. You can buy espresso from your local coffee shop, or you can use strongly brewed drip coffee or cold brew in a pinch. If you do want to buy a nice machine, I have and love the Breville Barista Pro espresso machine. It’s changed my life, and that’s no joke! I also have friends who have and love their Nespresso machines, and I prefer those to Kurigs because the quality is top notch!
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.
No way! While I prefer to use espresso, you can also use cold brew or strongly brewed coffee. Just be sure to let the coffee cool before using it. Pouring hot espresso or coffee directly over ice can cause it to taste bitter.
This recipe calls for home-infused vanilla rum, but you can also use dark or spiced rum with great results!
Shake your espresso martini vigorously for 30-60 seconds over ice to get the best, strongest froth in your cocktail. Use larger ice cubes if you can, because they won’t dilute your espresso martini as much as smaller cubes.
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Rum Espresso Martini
- 2 ounces espresso freshly brewed and cooled slightly
- 2 ounces vanilla infused rum
- 1 ounce Kahlua
- 1 ounce brown sugar simple syrup
- ice larger cubes, to fill cocktail shaker
- Brew a double shot of espresso according to the manufacturer's instructions on 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 the vanilla infused rum to the cocktail shaker.
- Next, add the Kahlua liqueur.
- Add the dark brown sugar 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 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.
- Use caution when handling espresso straight from the machine. Hot espresso can be upwards of 200ºF!