An espresso martini is a coffee-based alcoholic beverage that can be drunk at a bar or as an after-dinner beverage. With a strongly flavored ingredient like coffee, the underlying ingredients can either make or break an espresso martini.
In this article, we will look at our top picks for the best vodka for an espresso martini to help you choose the right vodka for you.
What to Consider Before Buying Vodka for an Espresso Martini
How to choose vodka for an espresso martini
One of the main factors you need to consider is the price of the vodka you are purchasing. There tend to be approximately 50 ml of vodka per espresso martini, meaning you can get 15 martinis per bottle of vodka. How often you make espresso martinis will affect how much you may be willing to spend on the vodka.
If you are planning on making this more often or for more people, you will need to replace the vodka often. You, therefore, want to consider the price tag and how much you are willing to spend on frequent replacements.
An expensive vodka and frequent espresso martini consumption will amount to a substantial amount of money spent within a time frame.
Attributes that differentiate these products
The underlying flavor profile of vodka can affect the taste of an espresso martini. For instance, a martini with a full fruit or citrus profile will affect the resulting martini. You should therefore look at mostly original recipe vodkas as these are less likely to influence the martini’s taste.
Different vodka brands bottle their beverage with different alcohol contents, which makes the alcohol by volume (ABV) of the vodka a consideration you must make.
If you are including a coffee liqueur or Kahlua in your martini, you need to keep in mind how strong the resulting martini will be. So, consider the strength of the vodka you are buying.
What’s the best way to make an espresso martini with vodka?
To make an espresso martini, you need 4 ingredients and martini glasses. For the coffee, you want to ideally use a strong espresso coffee that has been brewed from a martini as instant coffee will not be strong enough and will affect the flavor of the martini.
Next, you want some sort of coffee liqueur with Kahlua being the most popular option. You can use any type of vodka for this martini; however, some may affect the flavor more than others depending on the flavor profile of the vodka.
Finally, you want some simple syrup. You can either buy it as is or make a simple syrup at home with equal parts of water and sugar. Simply bring the ingredients to a boil and then allow them to cool.
To make the martini, brew the coffee and pour it into a bowl to cool it quicker. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the cooled coffee, simple syrup, and vodka. Add the Kahlua and shake to combine the ingredients. Finally, strain the mixture into a cocktail shaker and garnish with three coffee beans to serve.
Top 5 Best Vodka for Espresso Martini
Grey Goose was established in 1997 by the brand’s Maître de Chai, Francois Thibault, and Sidney Frank. It was then acquired by the Bacardi company in 2004 and has since distributed the vodka product worldwide.
This vodka was created to highlight the underlying character and tasting notes of the ingredients used during distillation.
A bottle of Grey Goose vodka can be bought for an average price of $33, with the flavored variations costing slightly less at an average of $31 per 750 ml bottle. At alcohol by volume (ABV) of 40%, this vodka is at the same strength as the average vodka on the market.
There are approximately 60 ml of alcohol per espresso martini, with approximately half of that being vodka.
Therefore, from a 750 ml bottle of vodka, you could make approximately 25 Espresso Martinis so, depending on how often you are planning to make this drink, this vodka should be affordable for most people.
- Finish and Tasting Notes: Grey Goose Vodka has a bold finish with notes of toffee and tasting notes of star anise and rye. These flavor notes are unlikely to affect the flavor of the espresso martini and should rather enhance the underlying ingredients and the flavors they bring to the drink.
- Strength: At an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 40% (80 proof), this vodka is at the same strength as the average vodka on the market.
- Price: A bottle of Grey Goose vodka can be bought for an average price of $33, with the flavored variations costing slightly less at an average of $31 per 750 ml bottle. For someone who is willing to spend a little more per bottle, Grey Goose is a good option.
Black Cow Vodka was established in 2012 in West Dorset. The primary ingredient used to distill this spirit is the leftover milk from grass-grazed cows after making cheese. With milk as the main ingredient, this vodka is smooth and innovative.
Jason Barber and Paul Archard (who goes by Archie) created this vodka to be a sustainable option for vodka. Waste whey is a more sustainable option for spirit-making than grain-based vodka which leads to lower effects on the environment in the form of lower CO2 emissions.
This is therefore a good vodka option for someone wanting a sweeter vodka, as well as someone concerned about the effect their purchases have on the environment.
- Finish and Tasting Notes: On the nose, Black Cow Pure Milk Vodka has notes of floral vanilla, lemon mousse, white pepper, desiccated coconut, and white chocolate. These notes complement the palate of vanilla and white chocolate. These tasting notes can help sweeten an espresso martini slightly, cutting the bitter notes of the coffee and making it more palatable.
- Strength: with the average strength of vodka being approximately 40% (80 proof), the strength of this spirit is exactly the average (40% ABV).
- Price: Like the price range as Grey Goose, Black Cow Pure Milk Vodka can be bought for approximately $36 per 750 ml bottle. This is a vodka that is not suggested to be drunk too often as the replacement per bottle will be more frequent and will cost more in the long run than a lower-priced vodka.
Ketel One was established over 352 years ago by Carolus Nolet Senior who wanted to create a high-quality spirit for a modern palate. This has been achieved by the brand who has continued to refine and improve the recipe of the vodka since its creation.
The distillery and home of Ketel One are based in Schiedam which is near the town of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Ketel One has remained within the control of the family since it began, allowing the traditions and philosophies of the original owner to continue.
This family has managed to keep Ketel One going despite facing the French Revolution in 1789, Prohibition in 1920, and the Second World War in 1939.
Despite the various influences that could have led to the end of Ketel One’s production, the brand is still thriving, selling spirits worldwide every year.
- Finish and Tasting Notes: Ketel One Vodka tasting notes are affected by the underlying 100% wheat base, making it slightly sweet with a toasty element to it. There is a round and smooth texture to the vodka with slight peppery notes. These elements will not overpower the coffee and Kahlua in an espresso martini, making it a good option.
- Strength: Like the previous options, Ketel One has an alcohol content of 40% (80 proof) so it is a good option for someone looking for a strong espresso martini and someone who has a slightly higher tolerance to strong spirits.
- Price: At an average price of $21 per 750 ml bottle, Ketel One is an affordable option for vodka purchases. This is a vodka that can be consumed a bit more often as it will not cost as much to replace the bottle once it has been finished.
Tito’s Homemade Vodka is produced in one of the oldest legal distilleries in Austin, Texas. Tito’s Homemade Vodka in 1995, Tito’s was founded by Bert “Tito” Beveridge who obtained the first legal permit to produce and distill vodka in Texas.
From there the brand has continued to create this corn-based spirit using traditional pot stills resulting in a gluten-free and tasty vodka product. Without easy access to information on how to distill vodka, Tito built copper stills based on photos he obtained from the prohibition era to use in creating his own product.
After much experimentation, Tito settled on a recipe and method that he believed was ideal for making a homemade and tasty vodka. He tested this by purchasing vodka from liquor stores and comparing them to his own creation until his vodka was considered ‘better’ than the competitors.
- Finish and Tasting Notes: Tito’s vodka has notes of sweet corn and black pepper which complement the light hints of porridge. With a thick and clean feel on the tongue, this is a vodka that will complement the espresso martini ingredients without overpowering them.
- Strength: at an ABV of 40%, Tito’s vodka is strong but manageable vodka that should not have too much of an effect on one’s inebriation. Given that an espresso martini contains Kahlua or some other coffee liqueur, a strong vodka would otherwise alter the taste of the cocktail. This is therefore a good strength for an espresso martini.
- Price: Tito’s is another lower-priced vodka option, with an average cost of $20 per 750 ml bottle. This is a good option for someone wanting to use it more often or someone who wants to be able to have plain vodka for more versatile use.
5. Cîroc Vodka
Since the 16th century, the family of Jean-Sébastien Robicquet has made wine and distilled spirits, making it almost an obvious choice that he would follow in their footsteps. With distilling expertise and a diploma in oenology, Robicquet is now the Master Distiller of Cîroc Vodka.
Robicquet created the Cîroc brand in 2003 with the aim of creating a fine vodka product for the market. Cîroc is made primarily from fine French grapes which go through a thorough distillation process 5 times to ensure the resulting vodka is fresh and has a distinct flavor profile.
- Finish and Tasting Notes: Cîroc has a clean and subtle aroma of citrus with slight notes of lemongrass and sage. The palate has a slightly zesty taste. If this taste were stronger, this could negatively affect the flavor of the espresso martini, but subtle notes should have a positive effect by diluting the bitterness of the espresso in the beverage.
- Strength: Cîroc has a lower alcohol content than most vodka products, with the average alcohol content being 35% (70 proof). For someone who has a lower tolerance to alcohol, this may be a good option to include in your next espresso martini.
- Price: Cîroc has an average price of $27 to $30 per 750 ml bottle, making it another slightly expensive option. For someone who prefers a higher-priced vodka, this is a good option. However, this is something that will cost more over the long run to replace as it is finished so buy this after you have considered the long-term price.
Vodka for Espresso Martini – Final Thoughts
The best vodka for an espresso martini is more subjective than it seems. If you prefer a stronger martini, then the strength of the underlying vodka is an important factor. Similarly, the price of vodka is important as there are several ingredients that cost money, and the frequent making of espresso martinis will eventually affect your bank account.
A low-priced vodka option is Ketel One which has an average cost of $21 per bottle. This is a good option for someone wanting to use their vodka more often, thus requiring frequent replacement. Like Ketel One, Tito’s Homemade Vodka is a subtle vodka with a low-price tag.
A middle-of-the-range vodka option is Grey Goose, which is available at an average alcohol content with a price tag of $33. This is a good option for someone who is looking for an occasional martini ingredient rather than for frequent consumption.
At a similar price but with sweeter tasting notes, Black Cow Pure Milk Vodka is a good option for someone looking for a vodka to cut the bitterness of the coffee in an espresso martini. Cîroc Vodka has a similar price to these middle-range vodkas, making it another option to consider before purchasing.
Flavored vodkas are not necessarily the best option for an espresso martini as those flavors can affect the overall taste of the cocktail. So, you want to consider these factors before buying vodka for an espresso martini. Hopefully, this article has helped you narrow down your next purchase of vodka.