This summer’s hottest cocktail combines espresso coffee, liqueur and vodka floating in a chilled martini glass. Although the espresso martini is not a new invention, its retaliation on the drinking scene is somewhat shocking. For coffee and martini lovers, this cocktail is the perfect balance of both worlds. Why switch from coffee in the morning to martinis in the evening when you can just combine the two for brunch and a girls’ night out?
According to the British magazine GQ, the espresso martini was designed by bartender Dick Bradsell in the 1980s. Bradsell has worked in some of London’s most famous member bars and clubs, from Soho Brasserie and Zanzibar to Fred’s Club and Colony Room Club.
Although his genius was famous locally, it wasn’t until celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss were caught drinking them that he made him popular in America as well. With such a chic look and prominent attention, the drink has taken root in American culture.
While every trendy drink goes through a cycle of popularity, over the past couple of years the espresso martini has snuffed out every millennial and adult Gen Z drinker. Since the ingredients are quite simple and easy to prepare at home, it’s the refined air of 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 Denver’s best and most creative interpretations.
Location: 1821 Blake Street, #130 Denver
The truth : Located in the Dairy Block, the Deviation Distilling Tasting Room offers a unique list of eclectic cocktails made only with in-house distilled spirits. The star of the menu is the espresso martini made with coffee-infused whiskey – it makes for a much smoother drink while still being rich in coffee flavor.
Avanti Foods and Beverages
Location: 3200 N Pecos St., Denver
The truth : With locations in Denver and Boulder, Avanti is a collective restaurant with diverse culinary concepts and craft bars. To accompany the incredibly hot weather this summer, Avanti has introduced The big cold at the Wolf Bar with various frozen cocktails. Among the many is an ice cold espresso martini topped with whipped cream. Perfect for cooling off while enjoying alcohol and caffeine!
Location: 1600 20th Street, Denver
The truth : The Original Denver located in McGregor Square serves a classic diner-inspired brunch with funky cocktails and family-friendly bites. Nestled between the traditional mimosa and the bloody mary is a espresso yourself ($12) cocktail with Wheatley vodka, cold brew, Marble Espresso liqueur and cocoa bitters.
Location: 2590 Welton St., #103 Denver
The truth : Located in the Lydian Hotel, Welton Room is known for its inventive and uniquely presented cocktails. The menu is espresso martini ($17) is no exception to this rule composed of vodka, espresso, coffee and orange liqueur, vanilla, almond, whipped coffee and orange zest. With such a balanced flavor profile, this martini tastes like your favorite Starbucks order, but with vodka.
Location: 300 S Logan St., Denver and 1201 Santa Fe Dr., Denver
The truth : Molecule Effect is part cafe, part wine, part art gallery. A great place to work or hang out 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 is purchased, get one free!
Location: 494 E 19th Avenue Denver
The truth : D Bar is well known for its famous dessert and dessertini with a espresso yourself ($15). With the same vibe but a different spirit, this martini is made with Cane Run 151 rum rather than vodka and added Frangelico, Bailey’s and espresso. With the two creamy liqueurs, this cocktail is made to be sipped easily.
Poka Lola Social Club
Location: 1850 Wazee Street, Denver
The truth : Also located in Denver’s Milk Market, Poka Lola Social Club features timeless Gatsby decor and delicious espresso martini ($13). Made with Family Jones Brown Butter Vodka, Caffé Borghetti, and vanilla, this martini is the blueprint. It has subtle notes of coffee and caramel masking the taste of the liqueur perfectly.
Location: 619 E 13th Avenue Denver
The truth : Although not classified as an espresso martini, Hudson Hill in the Capitol Hill neighborhood offers the 8 a.m. cocktail with similar flavor profiles. It is a blend of Middle State Coffee espresso, bourbon and amaro. While it’s definitely worth trying to spice things up, the menu also features traditional espresso martinis.
Williams and Graham
Location: 3160 Tejon Street, Denver
The truth : One of Denver’s most popular speakeasies is located behind a secret library in the Highlands neighborhood. In addition to various classic and seasonal cocktails, the espresso martini ($16) seat on the menu with Wódka, Caffé Borghetti, cold infusion and sweet cream. The taste is like sipping a real cup of coffee at home, but the dim lighting and loud music say otherwise.
Location: 1422 Larimer Street, Denver
The truth : Green Russell is another local speakeasy that really transports you back to the days of prohibition, not only with its hidden bar but also its traditional cocktails with a twist. In particular the espresso martini ($13) is slightly less traditional with Espolon Blanco tequila, cold brew, St. George Nola coffee liqueur and sugar. It tastes slightly different but in the lightest and most satisfying way possible.
Location: 1701 Wynkoop St., Denver
The truth : Perched above the Terminal Bar is the stylish Cooper Lounge serving delicious cocktails with an aerial view of Union Station’s Great Hall. On the menu, another caffeinated cocktail with Pig Train cold brew concentrate, house-infused cocoa nib vodka, Demerara syrup, grated nutmeg and Caffé Borghetti.
Location: 1475 California Street, Denver
The truth : 54Thirty is a rooftop bar located at the Le Meridien hotel in downtown Denver. Although the bar can concoct a typical espresso martini, the cold brew sunset ($16) tastes similar and adds a bit of uniqueness to other caffeinated beverages. It’s a blend of vodka, coffee liqueur, amaro, Irish cream, and cold brew. 54Thirty has one of the best views of downtown Denver and the front beach with a delicious caffeinated cocktail to match.
Don’t see your favorite espresso and martini spot? Leave a comment and share this caffeinated cocktail with the rest of Denver! And check out the rest of the articles in this series HERE.