Transform Your Espresso Martini Into A Decadent Dessert With One Ingredient

Nothing captures the combined essence of power glam and pure chaos quite like the espresso martini. According to legend, this cocktail of vodka, espresso, and coffee liqueur was invented at Fred's Club in London in the 1980s by bartender Dick Bradsell (via YouTube). But, for better or worse, it came back in a big way in 2022, which many called the "year of the espresso martini."

It's a drink designed for long nights and strong stomachs, with enough caffeine and sugar to keep you up, and enough booze to keep you out. But, like its OG fans, the espresso martini has gotten a little old. Luckily, there's always something new that can be done to — pardon the pun — shake this martini up.

A traditional espresso martini recipe calls for 2 ounces of vodka, ½ ounce of Kahlúa, ½ ounce of simple syrup, and one shot of espresso (about 1 ounce), with whole coffee beans often used as a garnish. But there are countless variations: Some recipes sub in espresso powder for the real thing, per the Food Network, while others swear by using rum in lieu of vodka for a more flavorful beverage (via Punch). You can even use Bailey's Irish Cream if you're low on Kahlúa.

But there's one secret ingredient that will take your espresso martini from adult trick to adult treat: ice cream.

The Affogato Martini

Adding espresso to ice cream is known as an affogato, which Martha Stewart explains means "drowned" in Italian. Though the affogato's origins are hazy, its appeal is undeniable as it's essentially an old-world Frappuccino. There's even an alcoholic version, the affogato corretto, or "corrected" affogato, which calls for a shot of grappa, per Liquerious.

An affogato martini, then, isn't so far off. Restaurants like New York City's Maialino (vicino) have begun serving upscale takes on this dessert/drink, made with cherry liqueur, Mr. Black coffee liqueur, aged rum, espresso, and vanilla gelato (via Food & Wine). 

Kahlúa offers a more accessible (but no less delicious) recipe that involves nothing more than the coffee liqueur itself, vanilla ice cream, and espresso, for a less boozy and more coffee-forward version. Both recipes call for the liquor and coffee to be shaken together separately with ice, and strained over a glass of ice cream. 

Mailano's Beverage Director, Cory Holt, recommends pre-scooping the ice cream and chilling it in the glass in the freezer before constructing your drink. "You want to build the drink, shake it, and the last thing you want to do is pull out the glasses [from the freezer] and very quickly pour the frothy espresso martini over the gelato," Holt explains to Food & Wine. The extra step is completely worth it and will leave you with a dessert that hits all the sweet, creamy, bitter, and boozy notes you're looking for.