Top Espresso Martini Variations Across America

Bartender making his own variation of an espresso martini

The espresso martini has firmly established itself as a sophisticated favorite among cocktail lovers. Traditionally composed of espresso, vodka, and coffee liqueur, its classic recipe is tried and true. However, for those looking to kick it up a notch or explore new espresso martini variations, incorporating different liqueurs offers an exciting avenue of experimentation. From the creamy richness of Baileys to the nutty notes of Frangelico, each addition can transform the traditional espresso martini into a unique flavor experience.

Wondering which variations are hitting the mark? We delved into espresso martini menu mentions across bars and restaurants nationwide, uncovering the latest trends and unique regional twists from the Northeast to the West. Join us as we explore the evolution of this iconic cocktail across the United States.

Regional Variations in Espresso Martini Ingredients

The Espresso Martini is not just a cocktail, it’s a canvas for regional tastes. Certain liqueurs enjoy heightened popularity in specific parts of the country, adding a local twist to this global favorite – leading to different espresso martini variations. While Kahlua and Baileys dominate in each region, let’s take a look at some deeper trends. Here’s a look at where Licor 43, Borghetti, Frangelico, and Mr. Black are most favored – ranked by menu mentions:

  • Licor 43:
    • Central Region: This region shows a preference for Licor 43, with its regional frequency comparable to the menu presence of Grey Goose. The unique blend of citrus and vanilla in Licor 43 appears to resonate well with the Central palate. While it is #6, no other region has this brand in their top 12.
  • Borghetti Coffee Liqueur:
    • West and Southern Region: Borghetti finds its highest admirers in the South and West. This Italian liqueur, known for its rich espresso flavor, adds a robust dimension to the espresso martini in these regions (#7 ranked brand each).
  • Frangelico:
    • Southern Region: Frangelico’s hazelnut flavor is almost as popular as Absolut vodka, highlighting a regional fondness for its sweet, nutty character in espresso martinis (#4 ranked brand).
  • Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur:
    • Western and Central Regions: Known for its bold, artisanal coffee flavor, sees varying levels of popularity across regions, with the highest preference in the West and Central (#4 ranked brand each).
  • Stoli Vodka
    • Northeast: Regionally, Stoli is the only vodka to rank higher than Tito’s, albeit by one place. (#3 ranked brand).

Top Espresso Martini Liqueur Variations Beyond Coffee Liqueur

Beyond regional variations, a common twist on this classic is by incorporating various types of liqueurs. Here are the 5 top liqueur variations by menu mentions. To get the full list, download our espresso martini report to stay up-to-date on one of the most popular cocktails!

  • Bailey’s – 44.3%
    • Baileys Irish Cream, with its luxurious blend of Irish whiskey and cream, brings a decadent richness to the espresso martini. When added, it softens the espresso’s bitter edge, introducing a velvety smoothness that makes the cocktail more indulgent. The creamy texture and subtle whiskey notes make it a popular choice for a dessert-like variation of the classic cocktail.
  • Frangelico – 16.3%
    • Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur, adds a delightful nutty sweetness to the espresso martini. Its rich hazelnut flavor, complemented by hints of vanilla and chocolate, provides a warm and inviting complexity. This pairing is especially appealing for those who enjoy a harmonious blend of nutty and coffee flavors in their cocktails.
  • Licor 43 – 7.8%
    • Licor 43 introduces a unique twist to the espresso martini with its exotic blend of citrus and herbs. This Spanish liqueur’s complex flavor profile, characterized by sweet vanilla and bright citrus notes, adds an aromatic and slightly spicy layer to the cocktail. It’s an excellent choice for those seeking a more intricate and nuanced espresso martini.
  • Godiva – 5.7%
    • For chocolate enthusiasts, the addition of Godiva liqueur turns the espresso martini into a sumptuous treat. The rich, smooth chocolate flavor complements the natural coffee notes, resulting in a cocktail that’s akin to a liquid dessert. This variation is perfect for those who prefer their drinks on the sweeter, more decadent side.
  • Averna – 5.5%
    • Averna, an Italian amaro, brings an intriguing herbal and mildly bitter profile to espresso martini variations. Its complex blend of herbs and roots adds depth and balances the cocktail’s sweetness, making it an ideal choice for those who appreciate a more sophisticated and less sugary drink.

Espresso Martini Variations Wrapped Up

In this blog, we’ve delved into the various liqueurs and vodkas that shape the espresso martini’s flavor across different regions. From the creamy notes of Baileys to the deep coffee essence of Borghetti, each element plays a role in the cocktail’s diversity. But there’s so much more to discover. Our comprehensive espresso martini report delves deeper, offering insights into the most popular brand pairings used in bars, the leading suppliers driving trends, and the standout brands that are shaping consumer preferences. Download now to stay up-to-date on one of the most popular cocktails.


What is the difference between an espresso martini and a black Russian?

  • Both the espresso martini and the black Russian are coffee-flavored cocktails, but they have some key differences. The espresso martini is made with vodka, espresso, coffee liqueur, and simple syrup. It is shaken and strained into a chilled martini glass. The black Russian is made with vodka and coffee liqueur. It is stirred and served on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass.

How do you upgrade an espresso martini?

  • Freshly brewed espresso: Instead of using pre-made espresso, opt for freshly brewed espresso. The rich, intense flavor elevates the overall experience.
  • Enhance the Liqueur: Experiment with different coffee liqueurs to explore unique flavors. Consider amaretto for a hint of almond, Frangelico for hazelnut notes, or Patron XO Cafe for a rich, chocolatey touch.
  • Coffee Beans: Elevate the presentation with a rim of coffee beans

How can I make my espresso martini taste like chocolate?

  • Use chocolate liqueur: Instead of the traditional coffee liqueur, use a chocolate liqueur like Godiva, Mozart, or Crème de Cacao.
  • Add chocolate syrup: Drizzle some chocolate syrup into the shaker before you add the other ingredients.
  • Rim the glass with chocolate shavings: Dip the rim of the martini glass in chocolate syrup or melted chocolate and then roll it in chocolate shavings.



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