An Irish Coffee Martini Combines 2 Caffeinated Cocktails

Why choose between an Irish coffee and an espresso martini when you can have them both? If you've ever been conflicted about which coffee-based cocktail to order, try an Irish coffee martini. The drink merges the best of both classic drinks, resulting in a delicious, caffeinated beverage that's uniquely its own. 

The reason an Irish coffee martini works so well is because it embraces complementary aspects of both drinks. At first glance, the two cocktails sound extremely similar; both are, after all, heavy on coffee and alcohol, with parallel flavor profiles. However, they differ in temperatures — Irish coffees come hot — and the nature of their spirits. Namely, Irish coffees generally consist of coffee, sugar, whiskey, and cream, while espresso martinis are all about espresso, vodka, Kahlua, and simple syrup. An Irish coffee martini, then, picks and chooses specific characteristics of each drink. The ensuing combination results in a flavor profile that's sweet but not too strong. 

To ensure your cocktail gets off on the right foot, start by choosing quality ingredients. And, when it comes to your espresso martini's vodka, swap it out in favor of whiskey. 

The best Irish coffee martinis use high-quality whiskey and espresso

The trick to an Irish coffee martini is not only in the kind of spirits you use but also in their quality. Espresso martinis typically call for vodka, whereas Irish coffee martinis forgo the vodka altogether. Instead, the drink uses Irish coffee's combination of whiskey and coffee liqueur. The espresso martini's characteristics then surface in an Irish coffee martini's use of espresso, as well as simple syrup. Some recipes also use various flavorings, like vanilla extract or nutmeg.

Making an Irish coffee martini, however, isn't as simple as throwing these four ingredients together. "When making an Irish Coffee Martini, the key is to select a whiskey that is smooth with soft edges that really complements the espresso flavor without overpowering it with whiskey notes," Aidan Mehigan, founder of Natterjack Irish Whiskey, told Tasting Table. "Using a premium, quality espresso, like Farah Nicaraguan, makes a big difference as well."

You should therefore choose your espresso and whiskey carefully and with intention. The better your ingredients, the better your cocktail. Once you've made your choice, follow Mehigan's lead and shake about 1.5 ounces of whiskey with an ounce of coffee liqueur, an ounce of espresso, and your simple syrup. The ensuing drink will look similar to an espresso martini, with a taste akin to its Irish coffee roots.