I was lucky enough to spend some time last year showing my wonderful cousin Kim and her fabulous friends Carolyn, Kelly and Lianne around Cyprus. We had an absolute blast, squeezing in as many of the sights and sounds as we could in the few days they were there. Along the way, we cooked loads of delicious food, and drank plenty of the girls signature drink – the Espresso Martini, just the sort of rocket fuel you need when time is short and there’s a lot to do!
The Espresso Martini was invented by the master of the modern cocktail Dick Bradsell in the early ’90s. Apparently, a customer came into his bar looking for something to “wake her up and **** her up”. Dick turned to the coffee machine next to him and a cocktail classic was born. A modern espresso martini is made of equal parts coffee liqueur, vodka and espresso shaken hard over ice. This gives it a lovely foamy top, on which three whole coffee beans are floated.
While we were making Espresso Martinis back in Munich, I got to thinking that coffee liqueur must be easy to make at home, and surely less sickly sweet than the big name brands. After a bit of experimentation, I think I’ve arrived at exactly the right recipe, and you’ll be amazed how quick it is to make.
All you need to do is to stir good quality ground coffee and some vanilla bean into rum or vodka, leave it overnight to infuse, then mix it with sugar syrup the next day. The beauty is the simplicity, making it this way gives you a beautifully clean, strong coffee flavour, and you can adjust the sweetness to suit your tastes. It lasts forever in the fridge and makes a brilliant present.
If you’re not a fan of espresso martinis, this homemade coffee liqueur is perfect in that other classic cocktail, the White Russian – though I take no responsibility for the state of your head the morning after. Have you tried making homemade liqueur? What’s your favourite tipple? Let me know in the comments below. Take care out there, and CHEERS! x J
Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below, or using the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram. Happy cooking!
- 500ml rum
- 30g ground coffee, ca. ½ cup
- ⅓ vanilla bean
- 200g sugar
for the Espresso Martini (makes 2):
- 75ml vodka
- 75ml coffee liqueur
- 75ml hot, fresh espresso coffee
Combine the rum, coffee and vanilla bean in a large glass jar with a tightly fitting lid. Shake to combine, then allow to infuse for at least 8 hours.
To prepare the liqueur, heat the sugar and 150ml of water in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Strain the rum through a coffee filter into a large jug, reserving the vanilla bean.
When the sugar syrup has cooled, combine with the coffee-infused rum - if you are not sure how sweet you would like your liqueur to be, try adding half of the syrup, tasting (yay!) and adding more syrup until it is as sweet as you like it.
Pour the liqueur into a clean bottle and store in the fridge. If you’d like a more pronounced vanilla taste, add the reserved vanilla bean to the bottle, otherwise, re-use the vanilla bean by letting it dry and then packing it into a small jar full of sugar to make vanilla sugar.
To make the Espresso Martini, combine vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into chilled martini glasses and garnish with 3 coffee beans.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I have to use rum to make coffee liqueur?
Not at all! Use whatever spirit you like. Rum, vodka, bourbon or brandy are all great bases for a liqueur.
Do I have to use ground coffee? Can I use instant coffee to make coffee liqueur?
You can use instant coffee, but to be honest, it’s always going to taste like instant coffee. Do yourself a favour and get some ground coffee, the flavour is so much better.
How long will coffee liqueur last?
Chilled, coffee liqueur lasts fairly much indefinitely. It makes a great gift or bring along for a party.