Global Sips: Top 10 Destinations for the Ultimate Espresso Martini

The espresso martini is more than just a cocktail; it’s a journey—a sophisticated blend of culture, art, and flavor that has captivated the palates of connoisseurs around the globe. From the dimly lit speakeasies of London to the vibrant cocktail bars of Tokyo, this beloved concoction offers a unique lens through which to explore the world’s most exciting urban landscapes. As we embark on this global tour, we’ll uncover the origins, the variations, and the establishments that elevate the espresso martini from a mere beverage to an experience unto itself.

  1. The Rise of the Espresso Martini: This iconic drink, born out of the 1980s London bar scene, has evolved far beyond its original concoction of vodka, espresso, coffee liqueur, and sugar. Today, it symbolizes the fusion of global coffee culture with the art of mixology.
  2. Cultural Significance: Around the world, the espresso martini reflects local tastes and sensibilities, adapting to include local spirits, coffee brews, and artisanal ingredients. It serves as a mirror to the diverse cocktail cultures across continents.
  3. Craftsmanship and Innovation: Behind every great espresso martini is a story of craftsmanship. From the selection of the coffee to the precise method of mixing, it’s the attention to detail and creativity that make each sip a masterpiece.
  4. Global Journey: As we traverse from city to city, each destination reveals its own identity through this versatile cocktail. The espresso martini becomes a medium, telling tales of innovation, tradition, and the relentless pursuit of perfection.
  5. Why It Matters: In the resurgence of classic cocktails, the espresso martini stands out for its ability to adapt and thrive. It’s a testament to the enduring appeal of combining coffee and spirits, appealing to a new generation of drinkers while satisfying the nostalgia of the old.

As we dive into the heart of the espresso martini’s global journey, let’s explore the top ten destinations where this cocktail is not just served but celebrated for its rich complexity and enduring appeal.

10 Top Espresso Martini Bars

CityBar NameUnique FeatureSignature Espresso Martini Note
London, UKNightjarSpeakeasy-style decor, jazz ambianceInnovative twist with house-made syrups and rare spirits
New York City, USAEmployees OnlyProhibition-era speakeasy vibe, vibrant energyClassic balance with a signature flourish of coffee beans
Melbourne, AUThe EverleighTimeless interior, golden age of cocktailsCrafted with surgical precision, focusing on purity
Sydney, AUMaybe Sammy1950s Las Vegas glamour, playful atmosphereTheatrical presentation with unexpected ingredients
Paris, FRLittle Red DoorCozy avant-garde vibe, conceptual cocktailsExperience-driven, crafted with bespoke ingredients
Milan, ITNottingham ForestEclectic decor, experimental drinksBold, innovative approach with exotic ingredients
Tokyo, JPBar BenfiddichBespoke experience, seasonal ingredientsCustom creation focusing on fresh, artisanal components
Los Angeles, USAThe VarnishHidden speakeasy, Prohibition era charmClassic elegance and simplicity, focusing on precision
Berlin, DEBuck and BreckMinimalist space with a singular table, intimate atmosphereStripped down to its core, emphasizing quality and craftsmanship
Edinburgh, SCBramble BarCozy underground vibe, blend of tradition and innovationInventive and bold, often featuring local Scottish spirits

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1. London, UK: Nightjar

London UK Nightjar Via Tripadvisor

Ambiance: Step into Nightjar, and you’re immediately transported to an era of clandestine glamour. This speakeasy-style bar, nestled in the heart of London, offers an intimate setting where jazz melodies float through the air, mingling with the soft chatter of an eclectic clientele.

Signature Espresso Martini: Nightjar’s espresso martini is a testament to the bar’s innovative spirit. It goes beyond the classic, incorporating house-made syrups and rare spirits to create a version that’s both familiar and thrillingly new. The exact composition is a closely guarded secret, but each sip delivers a velvety smoothness that’s accentuated by a subtle, complex layering of flavors.

Noteworthy: The accolades that Nightjar has garnered are a reflection of its commitment to excellence. Recognized among the world’s best bars, it’s not just the drinks that draw people in but the experience of stepping into a bygone era, where every cocktail tells a story.

2. New York City, USA: Employees Only

Ambiance: In the bustling streets of the West Village lies a gateway to another world. Employees Only is more than a bar; it’s an institution in New York City’s cocktail scene, where the spirit of the Prohibition-era speakeasy is alive and well. The vibrant energy of the staff, the intimate yet lively atmosphere, and the meticulously designed interior make every visit memorable.

Signature Espresso Martini: Here, the espresso martini is elevated to an art form. Employing a carefully calibrated blend of high-quality espresso, premium vodka, and a touch of coffee liqueur, Employees Only serves a rendition that is both robust and impeccably balanced. The drink is finished with a signature flourish, a trio of coffee beans that symbolize health, wealth, and happiness.

Noteworthy: Employees Only has not only made its mark on the mixology world with its exceptional cocktails but also with its dedication to the craft of bartending. The bar’s founders have penned books on cocktail making, and the establishment itself has become a training ground for some of the city’s most talented mixologists.

3. Melbourne, Australia: The Everleigh

Ambiance: Far from the neon lights of New York City, Melbourne’s Fitzroy neighborhood offers a different kind of charm. The Everleigh, with its discreet entrance and timeless interior, invites patrons into a world where elegance and refinement take center stage. This is a place where the golden age of cocktail making is not just remembered but relived.

Signature Espresso Martini: At The Everleigh, the espresso martini is crafted with an almost surgical precision. The bar’s approach is a nod to the classics, with a focus on the purity of each ingredient. The result is a drink that is both sophisticated and soulful, with a depth of flavor that reflects the bar’s meticulous attention to detail.

Noteworthy: The Everleigh is renowned for its commitment to the craft of cocktail making, with a menu that reads like a love letter to the classics. Its reputation extends beyond Melbourne, attracting visitors from around the world who seek out the bar not just for its drinks but for the experience of stepping into a living piece of cocktail history.

4. Sydney, Australia: Maybe Sammy

 Sydney, Australia: Maybe Sammy By Andrea Gualdi
Top 10 Destinations to Sample the Best Espresso Martini 9

Ambiance: A leap from Melbourne’s understated elegance, Sydney’s Maybe Sammy injects a dose of flamboyance into the cocktail scene. With an interior inspired by the glamour of 1950s Las Vegas, the bar is a fusion of old-world charm and modern playfulness. It’s an environment where the excitement is palpable, and the cocktails are served with a side of spectacle.

Signature Espresso Martini: Maybe Sammy’s take on the espresso martini is as much about the presentation as it is about the drink itself. Utilizing top-tier espresso and a unique blend of spirits, the bar adds a twist with unexpected ingredients that elevate the drink beyond its traditional roots. The final presentation is theatrical, ensuring that each espresso martini is not just a drink but an experience.

Noteworthy: Lauded as one of the world’s best bars, Maybe Sammy stands out for its ability to blend impeccable service with a sense of fun and adventure. It’s a place where the art of the cocktail is celebrated with a wink, inviting patrons to enjoy the craftsmanship and creativity that go into each drink.

Top 10 Destinations for the Ultimate Espresso Martini

5. Paris, France: Little Red Door

Ambiance: Entering the Little Red Door in Paris is like stepping into a dream of what a cocktail bar should be. Tucked away in the Marais, this bar exudes a cozy yet avant-garde vibe, with its namesake red door welcoming guests into a world of experimental mixology. The interior, with its eclectic furnishings and warm lighting, encourages intimate conversations and contemplative sips.

Signature Espresso Martini: What sets the Little Red Door apart is its conceptual approach to cocktails. The espresso martini here is not just a drink; it’s an exploration of flavor, texture, and aroma. Crafted with bespoke ingredients and a creative twist, their version invites drinkers to experience the espresso martini as an expression of artistry and emotion.

Noteworthy: Recognized globally for its innovative menu, the Little Red Door has carved out a niche for itself as a leader in the cocktail industry’s creative forefront. The bar’s approach to mixology, focusing on the sensory experience of each cocktail, has made it a must-visit destination for those seeking to push the boundaries of traditional drink-making.

6. Milan, Italy: Nottingham Forest

Ambiance: Milan’s Nottingham Forest is a cocktail enthusiast’s wonderland, a place where the boundaries of drink-making are constantly being tested and redefined. The bar itself is a treasure trove of curiosities, filled with bottles from around the world and adorned with eclectic decor that speaks to the adventurous spirit of its patrons.

Signature Espresso Martini: Here, the espresso martini is reimagined with a boldness that matches the city’s fashion-forward reputation. Nottingham Forest’s version might include exotic ingredients or cutting-edge techniques, offering drinkers a new perspective on a familiar classic. Each sip is a journey, showcasing the bar’s commitment to innovation and excellence in mixology.

Noteworthy: Nottingham Forest is celebrated for its groundbreaking approach to cocktails, often landing it on lists of the world’s best bars. This reputation is built not just on the quality of its drinks but on the experience of discovery it offers guests, making it a pivotal stop for anyone looking to explore the future of cocktails.

As we’ve traversed from the speakeasy vibe of London to the innovative spirit of Milan, our exploration has revealed that the essence of the espresso martini transcends borders, adapting and flourishing in diverse cultural soils. Each destination offers a unique narrative, not just about the drink but about the city and people that shape its character.

7. Tokyo, Japan: Bar Benfiddich

Ambiance: In the heart of bustling Tokyo, Bar Benfiddich stands as an oasis of calm and intimacy. This tiny, meticulously designed space feels like stepping into a personal laboratory of Hiroyasu Kayama, the bar’s legendary bartender. With an apothecary-like setup, the bar invites curiosity and wonder, offering a bespoke cocktail experience that is both personal and profound.

Signature Espresso Martini: Bar Benfiddich takes the concept of the espresso martini to new heights, with Kayama-san often incorporating house-made ingredients and foraged botanicals. Each drink is crafted with a focus on seasonal flavors and artisanal spirits, resulting in a bespoke creation that is as unique as the person for whom it’s made.

Noteworthy: The personalized approach to cocktails, along with the bar’s emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients, has placed Bar Benfiddich on the global map of must-visit cocktail destinations. It’s a testament to the creativity and passion that defines Tokyo’s cocktail scene.

8. Los Angeles, USA: The Varnish

Los Angeles, USA: The Varnish Via LA Downtown
Top 10 Destinations to Sample the Best Espresso Martini 10

Ambiance: Hidden away in the historic core of downtown Los Angeles, The Varnish is a speakeasy that transports patrons back to the Prohibition era. With its discreet entrance and cozy, wood-paneled interior, the bar provides a haven for those seeking refuge in classic cocktails and smooth jazz.

Signature Espresso Martini: At The Varnish, the espresso martini is revered for its classic elegance and simplicity. The focus here is on precision and balance, using only the finest espresso and a curated selection of spirits to create a drink that is both invigorating and smooth.

Noteworthy: The Varnish’s commitment to the craft of cocktail making has earned it numerous accolades, making it a pillar of Los Angeles’ vibrant nightlife. Its dedication to preserving the traditions of the speakeasy era, while also innovating within those confines, captures the essence of the city’s dynamic cocktail culture.

9. Berlin, Germany: Buck and Breck

Ambiance: Buck and Breck is a gem hidden in plain sight, a bar that challenges the very notion of public space. With its singular, large table, the bar fosters a sense of community and exclusivity, creating an intimate atmosphere where the art of cocktail making takes center stage.

Signature Espresso Martini: In Berlin’s Buck and Breck, the espresso martini is stripped down to its core, focusing on the purity of its components. The drink is a reflection of Berlin’s minimalist aesthetic, emphasizing quality and craftsmanship over embellishment.

Noteworthy: The bar’s dedication to the craft of mixology, combined with its unique approach to space and service, has made it a standout in Berlin’s competitive nightlife scene. It’s a place where simplicity and sophistication converge, offering a unique cocktail experience.

10. Edinburgh, Scotland: Bramble Bar

Ambiance: Nestled beneath the cobbled streets of Edinburgh, Bramble Bar exudes warmth and charm. Its subterranean location adds to the coziness and allure, inviting patrons into a world of inventive cocktails and friendly conversation. The mix of traditional Scottish hospitality with a modern cocktail menu makes Bramble a beloved local haunt.

Signature Espresso Martini: Bramble’s take on the espresso martini is inventive and bold, often featuring local Scottish spirits and unique twists on the classic recipe. The bar’s approach to cocktails is reflective of Edinburgh’s rich history and innovative spirit, making each drink a memorable experience.

Noteworthy: Praised for its creative cocktails and welcoming atmosphere, Bramble has cemented its place as a cornerstone of Edinburgh’s vibrant bar scene. It’s a testament to the city’s ability to blend tradition with innovation, offering a glimpse into the future of cocktails while staying rooted in its historic past.

As our global tour concludes, it’s clear the espresso martini is not just a cocktail but a vessel for cultural exchange, innovation, and storytelling. From the speakeasies of New York to the historic bars of Edinburgh, each destination offers its own unique flavor, contributing to the rich, diverse tapestry of the global cocktail scene. This journey through the world’s top destinations for espresso martinis showcases the boundless creativity and passion that fuel the world of mixology, inviting readers to explore and experience these flavors for themselves.


This exploration provides a window into the world of the espresso martini, illustrating how this iconic drink transcends borders, adapting to the tastes and traditions of each locale. It’s a journey that beckons to those adventurous in spirit and rich in curiosity, inviting them to partake in the global celebration of mixology’s finest.

The Universal Appeal of the Espresso Martini

The espresso martini, with its rich coffee notes and smooth vodka undercurrent, serves not just as a testament to the art of mixology but as a bridge connecting diverse cultures and histories. From the speakeasy bars of London to the innovative mixology labs of Tokyo, this beloved cocktail has adapted to local tastes while maintaining its core identity. The journey through the world’s top destinations for espresso martinis reveals a cocktail that is much more than the sum of its parts; it’s a narrative of global connection, a shared language of creativity and passion.

The exploration of these ten destinations underscores the universal appeal of the espresso martini. It’s a drink that offers both comfort and excitement, familiar yet always capable of surprise. As much as it is about the thrill of discovery, it’s also about the joy of returning to the familiar warmth of a well-crafted cocktail. The espresso martini stands as a symbol of modern cocktail culture’s dynamism and its ability to foster a sense of community across borders.

A Toast to Global Flavors and Local Stories

As we conclude this global tour, it’s evident that the essence of the espresso martini transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. Each bar, with its unique approach to this classic cocktail, tells a story of place, of people, and of the endless possibilities that arise when creativity meets tradition. The espresso martini is not just a drink; it’s an invitation to explore the world, one sip at a time.

To those who’ve followed this journey, consider this not just as a guide to the world’s best espresso martinis but as a passport to experiencing the rich tapestry of global cocktail culture. Whether you’re a seasoned mixologist, a coffee aficionado, or simply someone in search of new flavors and stories, the espresso martini offers a world of discovery.

Embark on Your Own Espresso Martini Journey

Now, armed with insights into the best destinations to experience the espresso martini, we invite you to embark on your own journey. Explore the flavors, the ambiance, and the stories of these renowned establishments. Share your discoveries, connect with fellow cocktail enthusiasts, and continue the exploration of this dynamic drink’s potential.



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In the end, the journey of the espresso martini is far from over. It’s an ongoing exploration of taste, technique, and tradition. So, raise a glass to the endless possibilities that await, and let the next chapter of your espresso martini adventure begin.

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