If you're a fan of all things festive and flavorful, you're going to love this Gingerbread Espresso Martini recipe! It's a tasty holiday twist on the original Espresso Martini, but with the cozy flavors of gingerbread. It's elegant enough for a holiday gathering, but also a delicious sip for a night at home.
This festive cocktail is so great for the Christmas season. The addition of gingerbread syrup to a traditional Espresso Martini gives a delicious mix of spice and warm molasses flavors. These cozy flavors of a gingerbread cookie go so well with coffee (and it's perfect for last minute present wrapping!)
If you're in the mood for more coffee cocktails, check out the easy Rumchata Coffee or this Whiskey Cold Brew cocktail. For some more Christmas cocktails, don't forget to check out my recipes for this tasty Gingerbread Old Fashioned, homemade Sugar Cookie Eggnog, or this refreshing coconut and gin Snowy Day cocktail.
About the Gingerbread Espresso Martini
The classic Espresso Martini recipe is a 1980's staple, created by famed London bartender Dick Bradsell. As the story goes, Bradsell created this now-iconic drink after a model (rumored to be Kate Moss) requested a drink "wake her up and then f*** her up."
The original typically combines freshly brewed espresso, vodka, and coffee liqueur. To give this a festive twist, adding a Gingerbread Syrup is the perfect flavor note. The warm ginger, cinnamon and clove flavors go perfectly with the other ingredients. (And don't forget a gingerbread cookie rim!)
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this cocktail:
- Freshly brewed espresso - this is a key ingredient in order to get the foam on top of your martini! The fresher, the better.
- Kahlua coffee liqueur - Kahlua is a sweet coffee liqueur that is the traditional ingredient. Feel free to use other coffee liqueurs, like Mr Black Cold Brew liqueur or Fratelli Vincenci coffee liqueur.
- Vodka - the perfect backdrop to make this a strong drink that's still an easy sipper.
- Gingerbread syrup - this brings the holiday flavor! Either use store bought, or make homemade Gingerbread Syrup.
- Crushed Gingerbread cookie crumbs - for the rim of the glass.
- Whole Coffee beans - for garnish.
How to make Gingerbread Syrup
Check out the full recipe here: Gingerbread Syrup Recipe.
Start by peeling a knob of fresh ginger using a spoon, and then cut it up into pieces. Add 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of water to a saucepan. Add in the cut up ginger followed by 2 tablespoons of molasses, 2 cinnamon sticks, star anise, allspice berries and a handful of mulling spices.
Bring everything to a boil, and then lower the heat to a simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then take it off the heat, let cool to room temperature and strain it into a bottle for storage.
Use right away, or keep it in the fridge for 2 weeks or up to a month (discard at any signs of cloudiness or mold).
Here are some ways you can substitute the ingredients in this cocktail:
- Espresso - If you can't get your hands on fresh brewed espresso, you can use cold brew concentrate instead. Just keep in mind you won't get the same foaming action with cold brew (unless you're using a can of Nitro Cold Brew). Or, you can try using a good quality Instant Espresso powder.
- Vodka - if you don't have vodka, a white rum or even a tequila blanco will work really well here.
- Coffee liqueur - Kahlua is pretty easy to find, but if you can't get your hands on a coffee liqueur, you can use a Creme de Cacao (chocolate liqueur). Or, just use some more of the syrup with a little more of the vodka too.
- Gingerbread Syrup - instead of flavoring your simple syrup, you can try adding a gingerbread spice mix directly to the cocktail shaker. Just keep in mind that it will probably leave some sediment in the drink, because the spices won't fully dissolve.
- Cookies - you can also use either crushed graham crackers or gingersnaps instead of the gingerbread cookies.
Here are some more delicious variations on this recipe:
- Gingerbread Latte Martini - add about an ounce of cream or foamed milk for a creamier texture and tasty flavor, like a boozy Gingerbread Latte. Or, add in some Bailey's Irish Cream.
- Non-alcoholic Gingerbread Espresso Martini - this is a really great drink to make into a mocktail! All you need to do is use coffee flavored syrup, like Shaker & Spoon Espresso Syrup, in place of the Kahlua. You can use either plain water or additional coffee in place of the vodka. You could also try Lyre's white cane non-alcoholic spirit in place of the vodka.
- Mocha Gingerbread Martini - use a chocolate vodka, like Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka, in place of the regular vodka. You could also use melted chocolate instead of the gingerbread syrup to add the cookie crumbs to the glass rim.
To make this drink, you'll need some bar basics like a jigger, a cocktail shaker and a strainer. Bonus points if you also have a fine mesh strainer! You'll also need a stemmed serving glass, like a martini glass or a coupe glass.
I used my Nespresso Vertuo Next to make the espresso, and it worked perfectly to get good foam! Definitely recommended (and probably the easiest way to get fresh espresso).
Start out by adding the crushed gingerbread cookies to the rim of the glass. First, dip the glass rim in the gingerbread syrup, and then dip it again into the crushed cookies.
Note: If you want to have a rim with more cookie crumbs, use a thicker liquid, like honey or even melted chocolate.
Set the glass aside, and make the drink itself. Pour the vodka and the Kahlua into your cocktail mixing glass.
Then, add in the gingerbread syrup, and the cooled espresso.
Fill the cocktail shaker with ice, and then seal it up. Shake vigorously until frothy, usually around 30 seconds if you are shaking hard.
Strain the mixture into your rimmed glass. Double straining (with a regular strainer and a fine mesh strainer) will help to keep the foam bubbles small and even.
Garnish with whole coffee beans, and serve.
Hint: You can add a blender ball along with the ice if you're having a hard time building your foam.
Top Tip - Getting a Good Foam Layer
The best way to get a good foam layer is to use really fresh espresso. You'll just need to let it cool for a bit before using it so it doesn't melt the ice too much.
The freshness is key because when it brews, the oils are extracted from the beans and it creates a foamy "crema" layer on top.
The crema, plus the shaking of the cocktail, creates even more foam. So, you really have to shake this drink as hard as you can! The more agitation you give it, the better foam you'll be able to get.
If you can't get your hands on fresh espresso, you can kinda cheat by adding some pasteurized egg whites, or Fee Foam cocktail foamer. But, the flavor is the best if you don't rely on those add-ins. It's better to go with a freshly opened can of Nitro cold brew instead.
Gingerbread Espresso Martini
- 2 Tablespoons crushed gingerbread cookies
- 2 Tablespoons gingerbread syrup (see Notes)
- 3 whole coffee beans
Cookie Crumb Glass Rim
- Add the gingerbread cookie crumbs to one small dish, and the 2 Tablespoons of gingerbread syrup to the other dish.
- Dip the rim of your serving glass into the syrup, turning and re-dipping so that the whole rim is coated in syrup. Let any excess drip back into the dish.
- Dip the rim into the cookie crumbs, turning and re-dipping to coat the whole rim in the crumbs.
- Set the glass aside while you make the drink.
- Add the vodka, Kahlua, gingerbread syrup and espresso to your cocktail shaker.
- Fill the shaker with ice and seal it up.
- Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds or until the mixture builds up a good foam.
- Strain the drink into the prepared glass. If you have a fine mesh strainer, pour the mixture through both strainers at the same time (this is called "double straining").
- Gently place the coffee beans so they float on top of the foam, and serve. Cheers!
- You can use Gingerbread Syrup. , but it's also super easy to make your own at home. The full recipe is here:
- If you don't have an espresso maker, you can use cold brew or cooled regular coffee. Just keep in mind that it will probably not make a strong foam layer. (A freshly opened can of works better than the others.)
- You can also use melted chocolate instead of the gingerbread syrup to get the crumbs to stick on the rim of the glass.