Espresso Martinis Made Unprecedented Moves In Top Cocktail Ranks

This year was the year of the espresso martini — and there's new data to back up that claim.

As the brainchild of a London bartender, espresso martinis have been around since the 1980s. Recently, however, they've made a resurgence and have become a staple at bars across the United States. In 2021, The New York Times documented the drink's surge in popularity, correlating the espresso martini's comeback with America's collective nostalgia for the 1990s. Over the last few years, this nostalgia has led to the espresso martini's gradual appearance on reality television shows. Shortly after, canned cocktail brands also got on board, and the martini derivative took on a life of its own.

This popularity also stems from the drink's combination of caffeine and alcohol. A basic espresso martini calls for vodka, Kahlua, simple syrup, and, of course, espresso. Like Irish coffees, espresso martinis bridge the gap between morning drinks and evening beverages. This merger of uppers with downers meets the needs of exhausted — but eager — post-pandemic partygoers.

Clearly, espresso martinis have carved out a unique place in the canon of cocktails. However, they ultimately deviate from Irish coffees because they come cold, rather than hot. Despite their chilled temperatures, espresso martinis have become one of the country's hottest beverages — with rankings that are anything but frosty.

Making history

It's not a stretch to suggest that the espresso martini has taken over. Recent CGA data published by Forbes documents the acceleration of the espresso martini. According to this year's findings, the trendy martini variation has jumped five places in the rankings of top-selling American beverages. Such expedited growth marks the most significant surge of any cocktail. Now, espresso martinis have even surpassed Manhattans, which dropped four places this year and are no longer top-selling cocktails.

"The latest tracker highlights the changing dynamics of the cocktail market and how consumer preferences influence their drinks choice, especially across periods of seasonality," Matthew Crompton, CGA's North American regional director, told Forbes.

In addition to espresso martinis, piña coladas showed notable movement in the listing. The summery drink experienced the largest growth surge between 2022's quarters: The cocktail rose from 17th place at the start of the year to 9th as the weather warmed. Besides espresso martinis, margaritas, Moscow mules, and traditional martinis remain some of the year's top cocktails. As 2022 comes to a close, however, who knows what next year will bring — and which cocktails will fill the most cups?