This summer’s hottest cocktail combines espresso coffee, liqueur and vodka floating in a chilled martini glass. Though the espresso martini isn’t a new invention, its reprisal in the drinking scene is somewhat shocking. For coffee and martini lovers, this cocktail is the perfect balance of both worlds. Why transition from coffee in the morning to martinis at night when you can just combine both for brunch and girls night out?
According to British GQ Magazine, the espresso martini was crafted by bartender Dick Bradsell in the 1980s. Bradsell worked at some of the most famous bars and member’s clubs in London from Soho Brasserie and The Zanzibar to Fred’s Club and the Colony Room Club.
Though his genius was locally famous, it wasn’t until celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss were caught drinking them that made it popular in America as well. With such a posh look and A-list attention, the drink took root in American culture.
As every trendy drink goes through a cycle of popularity, in the last couple of years the espresso martini has every Millennial and of-age Gen Z drinker by a chokehold. As the ingredients are quite simple and easy to make at home, it’s the air of sophistication when drinking one at a bar that makes these cocktails more enjoyable.
While espresso martinis can be found on virtually every bar menu across the state, below is a list of some of the best and most creative interpretations in Denver.
Location: 1821 Blake St., #130 Denver
The Lowdown: Located in the Dairy Block, the Deviation Distilling tasting room offers a unique list of eclectic cocktails made solely with spirits distilled in-house. The star of the menu is the espresso martini made with coffee infused whiskey—it makes for a much smoother drink while also heavy on the rich coffee flavor.
Avanti Food and Beverage
Location: 3200 N Pecos St., Denver
The Lowdown: With locations in both Denver and Boulder, Avanti is a collective eatery with various culinary concepts and craft bars. To accompany the insanely hot weather this summer, Avanti has introduced The Big Chill at Wolf Bar with various frozen cocktails. Among the many, is a frozen espresso martini topped with whip cream. Perfect to cool down and still catch a buzz from the alcohol and caffeine!
Location: 1600 20th St., Denver
The Lowdown: The Original Denver located in McGregor Square serves up a classic diner inspired brunch with funky cocktails and familial bites. Nestled between the traditional mimosa and bloody mary is an espresso yourself ($12) cocktail with Wheatley vodka, cold brew, Marble Expresso liqueur and cocoa bitters.
Location: 2590 Welton St., #103 Denver
The Lowdown: Located in the Lydian hotel, Welton Room is known for its inventive cocktails with a unique presentation. The menu’s espresso martini ($17) is no exception to this rule made with vodka, espresso, coffee and orange liqueur, vanilla, almond, whipped coffee and orange zest. With such a balanced flavor profile, this martini tastes like your go-to Starbucks order but with vodka.
Location: 300 S Logan St., Denver and 1201 Santa Fe Dr., Denver
The Lowdown: Molecule Effect is a coffee, wine and art gallery all in one. A great spot to catch up on some work or with friends, Molecule has an artsy vibe with delicious espresso martinis. Simply mixed—the espresso martini ($13) is made with vodka, espresso, coffee liqueur and vanilla. And every Saturday, espresso martini’s are buy one get one free!
Location: 494 E 19th Ave Denver
The Lowdown: D Bar is well known for it’s famous dessert and dessertini’s complete with an espresso yourself ($15). With the same vibe but different spirit, this martini is made with Cane Run 151 rum rather than vodka and added Frangelico, Bailey’s and espresso. With both creamy liqueurs, this cocktail is made for easy sipping.
Poka Lola Social Club
Location: 1850 Wazee St., Denver
The Lowdown: Also located in the Denver Milk Market is Poka Lola Social Club with timeless Gatsby decor and a delicious espresso martini ($13). Made with brown butter Family Jones vodka, Caffé Borghetti and vanilla—this martini is the blueprint. It has subtle notes of coffee and caramel perfectly disguising the taste of liquor.
Location: 619 E 13th Ave Denver
The Lowdown: Though it isn’t classified as an espresso martini, Hudson Hill in the Capitol Hill neighborhood offers the 8 a.m. cocktail with similar flavor profiles. It’s a mixture of espresso from Middle State Coffee, bourbon and amaro. While it is definitely worth a try to spice things up, the menu does also offer traditional espresso martinis.
Williams & Graham
Location: 3160 Tejon St., Denver
The Lowdown: One of Denver’s most popular speakeasy’s is located behind a secret bookcase in the Highlands neighborhood. Along with various classic and seasonal cocktails, the espresso martini ($16) sits on the menu with Wódka, Caffé Borghetti, cold brew and sweet cream. The taste is like sipping on an actual cup of coffee at home, but the moody lighting and loud music say otherwise.
Location: 1422 Larimer St., Denver
The Lowdown: Green Russell is another local speakeasy that truly transports you to the prohibition era, not only with its hidden bar but also with its traditional cocktails with a twist. Notably the espresso martini ($13) is made slightly less traditional with Espolon Blanco tequila, cold brew, St. George Nola coffee liqueur and sugar. It has a slightly different taste but in the lightest and most satisfying way possible.
Location: 1701 Wynkoop St., Denver
The Lowdown: Perched above the Terminal Bar is the elegant Cooper Lounge serving delicious cocktails with an aerial view of Union Station’s Great Hall. On the menu is another caffeinated cocktail with Pig Train cold brew concentrate, house infused cocoa nib vodka, Demerara syrup, grated nutmeg and Caffé Borghetti.
Location: 1475 California St., Denver
The Lowdown: 54Thirty is a rooftop bar located at Le Méridien hotel in downtown Denver. Though the bar can whip up a typical espresso martini, the cold brew sunset ($16) is similar in taste and adds a little uniqueness to other caffeinated drinks. It’s a mixture of vodka, coffee liqueur, amaro, Irish cream and cold brew. 54Thirty has one of the most beautiful views of Downtown Denver and the front range with a delicious caffeinated cocktail to match.
Don’t see your favorite espresso martini spot? Leave a comment and share that caffeinated cocktail with the rest of Denver! And check out the rest of the articles in this series HERE.