Make the holidays extra festive with one of my favorite twists on the classic: a peppermint espresso martini! The perfect boozy pick-me-up to serve after a long family dinner, your guests will love this sweet and minty holiday cocktail.
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Peppermint Espresso Martini Ingredients
Espresso martini… but make it festive! If you’re still looking for a cocktail to serve this holiday season, this peppermint espresso martini, garnished with crushed candy canes rather than sugar, may just be the perfect choice.
I also love the warm, spiced flavor of a chai espresso martini or a fruity ponche navideño (a Mexican Christmas classic), but there’s just something so distinctly wintery about peppermint! Paired with espresso and coffee liqueur, this peppermint espresso martini is the perfect boozy pick-me-up to serve with dessert.
The classic espresso martini has just three ingredients: espresso, vodka, and coffee liqueur. For this recipe, we’re also adding peppermint liqueur, plus a bit of simple syrup to balance things out.
Making a peppermint espresso martini is easy as pie and will take less than five minutes if you’ve already got simple syrup on hand. Let’s have a look at what you’ll need:
To give your peppermint espresso martinis that signature peppermint flavor, peppermint liqueur makes a great choice. You can use any you like. I’m using crème de menthe, which is green in color – no problem, since the dark colors that accompany it will absorb any green tinge.
Other choices include peppermint schnapps, which is usually clear in color, or even peppermint bark liqueur, which is cream-based. It all comes down to preference and what you happen to have on hand!
Tip: If you don’t want to use peppermint liqueur or can’t find it, you can also opt for peppermint extract, peppermint vodka or a peppermint-flavored coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua Mint Mocha.
The better the espresso, the better your cocktail will be. Fresh (though cooled to room temperature) espresso from an espresso maker is perfect. I love this simple classic stove-top Italian espresso maker. This being said, especially if you’re making big batches, cold brew or even instant coffee might be preferable. The latter won’t foam, though.
Espresso martinis do have caffeine. If you’re avoiding it for whatever reason, decaf espresso should be fine to use.
It doesn’t have to be top shelf since we’re not drinking it pure. Still, don’t use low-quality vodka either, as this may affect the flavor of the finished cocktails!
As mentioned above, peppermint vodka works well if you don’t want to use peppermint liqueur. Smirnoff sells a festive vodka called Peppermint Twist, which should be easy to find around the holidays.
Your espresso martini will need some coffee liqueur for added sweetness and coffee flavor. The two most popular choices are Tia Maria and Kahlua, although it’s generally said that the former offers a cleaner coffee aroma and is a little more complex and refined.
If you like a creamy touch to your espresso martini, you can also opt to sub for or add a little Bailey’s.
This one is optional. If you’re a bit of a purist and just want that bitter coffee flavor, by all means, skip the syrup and drink your espresso martini “black”. After all, the coffee and peppermint liqueurs do already add a good hint of sweetness.
If you don’t have any simple syrup on hand, you more than likely have what you need to whip some up in about 15 minutes. After all, it’s literally just equal parts sugar and water boiled together! One cup of each gives you more than enough for this recipe.
For festive cocktails, I love rimming the glasses with crushed candy cane or peppermint candy. Just take a few canes or pieces of candy, pop them in the blender or food processor, and give them a good blitz.
If you don’t have either of these kitchen utensils, don’t worry. You can also just place the candy in a freezer baggie and go to town with a hammer or heavy pan. I find smashing the candy canes by hand a rather soothing activity that helps me get rid of some of that holiday cooking stress (and having an espresso martini while cooking doesn’t hurt either)!
You can also use the three classic coffee beans as an extra garnish, or grate some (mint) chocolate over the foam.
FAQ: Does an espresso martini have dairy? Although some folks like a “dirty” espresso martini with milk, almond milk or coconut milk, the original recipe consists of just espresso, vodka, and coffee liqueur. Why not try both and see which you prefer? Let me know in the comments!
Peppermint Espresso Martini Method
To make your peppermint espresso martinis, you’ll just need some martini glasses and a cocktail shaker. The latter is a must, as we’ll want to shake this stuff well to get that lovely foam layer. It doesn’t have to be a special cocktail shaker, though: a protein drink shaker bottle works just as well.
Before you do anything else, pop your martini glasses in the freezer. You’ll want these cocktails to be nice and chilled, and pouring them into a warm glass doesn’t help with that. 15 minutes should do the trick; you can crush the candy canes for the glass rims in the meantime.
Once the canes are crushed and the glasses are chilled, putting together the martinis is a breeze. First, pour some simple syrup on a shallow dish and place the crushed candy canes on another. Dip the edges of the glasses in the syrup first and then in the candy to rim them.
Set the glasses aside and place plenty of ice plus all the cocktail ingredients in the shaker. Put the lid on (tightly!) and shake vigorously for up to a minute. Immediately pour the mixture into the glasses, making sure to divide the foam evenly.
Lastly, as mentioned, you can add some extra garnish like grated mint chocolate. Voilà! Beautiful peppermint espresso martinis ready to serve.
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Peppermint Espresso Martini
- 3 ounces espresso
- garnish: crushed candy canes and/or grated mint chocolate optional
- 1 tablespoon peppermint liqueur see notes
- 2 ounces coffee liqueur
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1 tablespoon simple syrup optional
- 1 teaspoon cream optional
- Make a cup of espresso and place in the refrigerator to cool.Pop your martini glasses in the freezer. You'll want these cocktails to be nice and chilled, and pouring them into a warm glass doesn't help with that. 15 minutes should do the trick; You can crush the candy canes for the glass rims in the meantime.3 ounces espresso, garnish: crushed candy canes and/or grated mint chocolate
- Set the crushed candy canes on a plate and set aside.Take a lemon wedge and run it around the rim of the chilled glass and then dip the glass in the crushed candy canes for the rim.
- Set the glasses aside and place plenty of ice plus all the cocktail ingredients in the shaker. Put the lid on (tightly!) and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds (up to a minute)Immediately pour the mixture into the glasses, making sure to divide the foam evenly.Lastly, as mentioned, you can add some extra garnish like grated mint chocolate. Voilà! Beautiful1 tablespoon peppermint liqueur, 2 ounces coffee liqueur, 2 ounces vodka, 1 tablespoon simple syrup, 1 teaspoon cream, ice
- You can choose to leave out the peppermint liqueur and use peppermint extract (1/4 tsp), peppermint vodka or peppermint-flavored coffee liqueur if you prefer them.
- If you’re having trouble getting your espresso to foam, or if you just want an extra-lush foam layer, you can use some chickpea liquid (aquafaba). Sounds weird, I know, but you can’t taste it and it gives a wonderfully stable foam. One teaspoon should do the trick.
- If you want to take your peppermint espresso martinis over the top, dip the martini glasses in some melted (mint) chocolate (rather than simple syrup) and then in the crushed candy canes.