How To Make A Low Or Non-Alcoholic Espresso Martini

The story goes that the espresso martini was created by bartender Dick Bradsell in response to a request from an unnamed fashion model at Fred's Club in London. The guest wanted a drink that would both energize them and set the party mood. A classic espresso martini recipe combines vodka, coffee liqueur, and espresso. Some recipes include a touch of simple syrup for added sweetness and a silkier texture. Regardless, this potent concoction typically contains around two to three ounces of alcohol, depending on who's doing the pouring.

That's a significant amount of alcohol, especially if you're just starting off your brunch. If it's later in the day and you've had a happy hour cocktail, followed by a glass (or two) of wine with dinner, then top it off with an espresso martini for dessert, there's no way you're making it through that 9 p.m. movie you were so excited to watch. Yet espresso martinis are so yummy — just sweet enough, well-balanced, and tantalizingly bitter. Is there a way to enjoy a low-alcohol or non-alcoholic version? 

Food Republic consulted Fernando Sousa, the bar manager at Diageo North America, for his advice. A proponent of Diageo's online DrinkiQ platform, which offers resources on the harmful effects of alcohol and helps individuals find a balanced approach to drinking, Sousa demonstrates that a low or non-alcoholic espresso martini is not only possible, but also delicious. Simply reduce the amount of vodka or replace it entirely with a non-alcoholic spirit.

How to make a low or non-alcoholic espresso martini

A good cocktail demands a balance of flavors. The clean and slightly bitter taste of vodka isn't merely for the buzz; it counterbalances the sweetness of other ingredients. The good news about an espresso martini is that the bitterness from strong espresso or cold brew means reducing the amount of vodka doesn't compromise the drink. Fernando Sousa suggests that you can reduce the vodka to half an ounce "while still maintaining great taste and balance." A coffee liqueur like Kahlua has an ABV of 20%, compared to vodka's standard 40%, so even if you keep the liqueur, you've significantly reduced the alcohol content.

Sousa also offers a suggestion for a completely non-alcoholic version of the espresso martini: eliminate the vodka and coffee liqueur entirely and replace them with 1½ ounces of a non-alcoholic spirit like Seedlip Spice 94.This spirit features notes of warm spices and citrus, pairing perfectly with the coffee. Brands such as Lyre and Kin Euphorics offer alcohol-free spirits with flavor profiles that can complement your coffee cocktail. Create an espresso martini, with or without booze, that's just right for you.