Vanilla Bean Espresso Martini

Vanilla Bean Espresso Martini
Jump to Recipe 👇

About This Recipe

Amid the vast vineyards and iconic wineries that dot the picturesque landscapes of Napa and Sonoma lies a hidden secret: a drink that has been gaining traction among the locals and visitors alike. Enter the Vanilla Bean Espresso Martini. This isn't just your regular espresso martini cocktail recipe; it's a drink that captures the spirit and sophistication of wine country, melding the world of coffee and cocktails in a way that's undeniably Californian.

There's an undeniable charm about sipping an espresso martini while overlooking the rolling hills of Napa or the rustic charm of Sonoma. Maybe it's the way the velvety flavors of coffee intermingle with the aromatic allure of vanilla, or perhaps it's the nod to the state's burgeoning coffee culture.

In crafting this espresso martini drink recipe, the key lies in selecting the best ingredients. Opt for a freshly brewed espresso; in the heart of wine country, many local roasteries are now emerging with beans sourced from all over the world. The likes of Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company or Acre Coffee in Sonoma are perfect examples.

But what truly sets this drink apart is the inclusion of vanilla bean, not just any extract. The soft, fragrant notes of real vanilla elevate the cocktail, bringing a touch of sweet elegance. For this, sourcing is crucial. California, while not a primary producer, has seen a surge in artisanal vanilla bean growers and suppliers. And while vanilla might not be native to the state, the dedication to quality and craft is undeniably Californian.

Now, for the uninitiated, crafting this martini might seem a touch intimidating, but fret not. Begin by mixing your freshly brewed espresso – cooled to room temperature – with high-quality vodka of your choice. To this, add a generous scraping of vanilla bean seeds. The Kahlúa or coffee liqueur introduces depth and sweetness, while the vanilla provides that aromatic elegance. Shake vigorously with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass, and there you have it.

But what about those who are accustomed to pairing their meals with wine? Napa and Sonoma, with their wine-centric reputations, might raise eyebrows at the introduction of an espresso-based cocktail. But delve a little deeper, and you'll find that this martini pairs seamlessly with many dishes. Think dark chocolate desserts or even a cheese platter featuring local produce. The rich flavors of the espresso martini complement the creaminess of cheeses like Brie or Camembert, both of which are staples in Californian cuisine.

And for those truly dedicated to their wines, consider pairing the Vanilla Bean Espresso Martini with a Late Harvest Viognier or a crisp Sparkling wine from local wineries. The likes of Schramsberg Vineyards with their sparkling wines or Robert Biale Vineyards with their Late Harvest Viognier can offer pairing experiences that are both unique and memorable.

Visitors to Napa and Sonoma shouldn't just limit themselves to the region's wines. Dive into the evolving drink culture, and you might just stumble upon your new favorite cocktail. And if you're a local, take pride in the fact that California, with its rich agricultural heritage and innovative spirit, is continuously pushing boundaries, whether it's in the realm of wines, food, or even cocktails.

So, the next time you find yourself amidst the grapevines, with a glass of wine in hand, consider making room for the Vanilla Bean Espresso Martini. It's not just a drink; it's a testament to California's ever-evolving culinary landscape. Cheers to that.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Vanilla Bean

Vanilla Bean: Nature’s Aromatic Marvel

The vanilla bean, a powerhouse of flavor, has long been treasured for its rich aroma and sweet undertones. Originating from the orchids of the genus Vanilla, these slender pods contain a multitude of tiny seeds, offering an authentic and robust vanilla flavor. The infusion of real vanilla bean in the Vanilla Bean Espresso Martini not only enhances the cocktail’s profile but also ties it to the aromatic ambience of Californian evenings.

While many might be tempted to substitute vanilla extract for this recipe, the true essence of vanilla can only be captured through the use of real beans. Each bean is a testament to the meticulous process of pollination, curing, and drying, ensuring that every sip of your martini carries with it a legacy of craftsmanship.

How to Perfectly Infuse Espresso with Vanilla

Steps to Maximize Vanilla Flavors in Your Espresso

  1. Select a Fresh Vanilla Bean: Ensure your vanilla bean is plump, moist, and supple. It should emit a strong vanilla fragrance.
  2. Slice the Bean: Using a sharp knife, make a lengthwise cut, ensuring not to slice it entirely in half.
  3. Scrape the Seeds: Gently use the back of the knife to scrape out the dark, granulated seeds.
  4. Infuse the Espresso: Mix the seeds into freshly brewed espresso, stirring gently. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  5. Bonus: For an intensified flavor, drop the entire sliced bean into the espresso and allow it to steep further.

FAQs About Vanilla Bean Espresso Martini

  1. Can I use vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean? While vanilla extract provides a hint of vanilla flavor, using a fresh vanilla bean gives a more pronounced and genuine vanilla essence. However, in a pinch, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract for one vanilla bean.
  2. What's the best way to store leftover vanilla beans? Store any unused vanilla beans in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. They can also be stored wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
  3. I'm allergic to vodka. Can I use a different alcohol base? Absolutely! Gin or white rum can be suitable substitutes, but they will alter the taste profile. Ensure the chosen alcohol pairs well with coffee flavors.
  4. How can I make homemade vanilla bean syrup? Combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan. Add a sliced vanilla bean and bring to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Cool and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
  5. Do I need a special coffee maker for the espresso? While an espresso machine is ideal, you can use a Moka pot, AeroPress, or a strong brew from a French press as alternatives.

Tips for Success: Crafting the Perfect Vanilla Bean Espresso Martini

  1. Chill Your Glass: A chilled martini glass ensures your drink remains cold and adds a touch of elegance to the serving.
  2. Quality Matters: Always opt for freshly brewed espresso and a premium brand of vodka. The quality of your ingredients directly impacts the flavor profile of the martini.
  3. Shake Vigorously: Ensure you give the cocktail shaker a good shake for at least 15 seconds. This not only chills the drink but also creates a nice frothy layer on top, adding texture to your martini.

Savor every sip of the Vanilla Bean Espresso Martini, and immerse yourself in the symphony of flavors it presents. Here's to capturing the essence of Napa Valley in a glass! Cheers!

Recipe Overview

Vanilla Bean Espresso Martini
Lily Anderson
1 serving
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 2 oz freshly brewed espresso, cooled
  • 1.5 oz vodka (preferably a premium brand)
  • 0.5 oz coffee liqueur (e.g., Kahlúa)
  • 0.5 oz vanilla bean syrup (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 fresh vanilla bean (for garnish and infusion)
  • Ice cubes
  • Coffee beans, for garnish

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Begin by slicing the vanilla bean lengthwise and scraping out the seeds. Mix the seeds into the freshly brewed espresso and let it sit for a few minutes to infuse.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the vanilla-infused espresso, vodka, coffee liqueur, and vanilla bean syrup.
  3. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds until well chilled.
  4. Strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish with three coffee beans and a slice of the vanilla bean pod.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

About Me

Don't miss a recipe!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Coming soon - Cookbook!

Loving Napa Home Chef Recipes and wishing for more? Discover print exclusives!

Napa Recipe Cookbook: Napa Home Chef
Brie and Pear Grilled Cheese with Fig Jam on Sourdough Bread
 Scallop and Mango Tartare with Spicy Microgreens and Wonton Chips
Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Bites with Dill Cream Cheese
Grilled Adobo-Marinated Chicken
Red Trout with Zesty Mandarins and Spiced Hazelnut Brown Butter
Espresso and Cocoa Rubbed Beef Burger with Mascarpone and Cherry Reduction
Smoked Salmon Benedict with Fresh Dill Hollandaise Sauce and Local Sourdough Bread
Rosquillas en Miel - Sweet Corn Doughnuts in Syrup
Creamy Burrata & Prosciutto Pasta Carbonara
Smoked Salmon-Dill Deviled Eggs
Redwood Forest Morel Mushroom Sauce
Smoked Salmon and Avocado Sandwich with Cream Cheese and Sprouts

Mandatory (inedible) cookies. By using this website, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.