Espresso martinis are having a major moment. With bars and restaurants reopening and returning to pre-pandemic hours, a hit of caffeine helps customers stay alert all the way through last call. Around D.C., bartenders are tinkering with recipes for the after-dinner drink that go beyond the traditional recipe of vodka, espresso, coffee liqueur, and simple syrup. Modernized versions loop in fresh chocolate shavings, Italian liqueurs, and more on-trend ingredients. Mr. Blacks, an intensely flavored Australian coffee liqueur, is showing up in several spots. Here are 14 spots to slurp a superior espresso martini.Read More
14 Espresso Martinis to Try in D.C. Right Now
The caffeine-packed cocktail is simultaneously timeless and on-trend
1. Seven Reasons
The trendy Latin American restaurant on 14th Street NW makes two after-dinner espresso cocktails behind the leafy 12-seat bar. The “A Sip Above It All” ($15) blends rums with coffee-infused martini bitters, creme de cacao, and madeira.
2. Lupo Pizzeria
Washington, DC 20009
Logan Circle’s colorful new pizzeria features a cool glass of vodka, Irish cream, coffee amaro, and espresso ($15).
Walk up to the glass-enclosed rooftop bar atop this Michelin-starred restaurant in Ivy City to splurge on a $20 concoction made with Kopper Kettle vodka, espresso syrup, and cinnamon vanilla cream.
4. Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
Regulars flock to Logan Circle’s long-running raw bar for its espresso martini made with Stateside vodka, Frangelico liqueur, Baileys, Kahlua, and cold brew coffee ($13).
Freshly brewed Lavazza espresso, Tito’s vodka, simple syrup, and J.Rieger & Co. Caffe Amaro join forces for a frothy martini ($17) served at the chic midcentury lobby bar inside the Dupont Circle hotel.
The London-based crazy golf bar recently introduced a massive Dupont Circle complex that serves a solid espresso martini. It’s made with Ketel One Vodka, Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao, Caffè Borghetti, and espresso, all topped with coffee beans.
7. Residents Cafe & Bar
The Bib Gourmand-designated cafe in Dupont Circle credits the espresso martini with putting it on the map when it opened in 2019. The stylish spot’s consistent best seller ($16) starts with local beans from Bump ‘n Grind brewed in its snazzy Slayer espresso machine. Vodka, vanilla, and chocolate join Borsci, Galliano, and organic ghee for a silky-smooth texture, finished with a generous amount of chocolate shavings.
8. Never Looked Better
Washington, DC 20001
The “Vodka Has Never Looked Better” menu at Blagden Alley’s new fluorescent, irreverent speakeasy features a mean espresso martini. Beverage director Jeff Coles picked Australia’s cold brew coffee liqueur Mr. Black over a dozen options to create “a silky pick-me-up.” The $16 drink is $2 off during its daily happy hour (5 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 p.m. on weekends).
9. Fitzgerald’s and 1789 Restaurant & Bar
Georgetown’s fine-dining fixture 1789 and new next-door cocktail bar Fitzgerald’s sell a chilled espresso martini from head bartender Jessie Kohout that mixes Stoli Vanilla, Van Gogh Espresso Vodka, Baileys, and Kahlua. The drink, garnished with a pair of chocolate ribbons, is a best-seller before and after dinner.
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10. Mercy Me
Washington, DC 20037
Angel’s Envy bourbon, rum, espresso, coconut tik tak, and salted panela collide in an espresso martini served at West End’s “Sorta South American” cafe and restaurant. Cocktail creator Micah Wilder calls the $14 drink “robust, velvety, and eye-opening.”
11. Nicoletta Italian Kitchen
The all-day cafe and restaurant from the New York-based group behind Osteria Morini builds its espresso martini with Skyy vodka, espresso, and St. George Spirits’s NOLA Coffee Liqueur.
12. Urban Roast
The buzzy all-day cafe in Penn Quarter that opened during the pandemic just rolled out espresso martini “tasting” service, presented in a trio of tiny martini glasses. The flight features three flavors: raspberry white chocolate, coconut, and toasted almond mocha ($26).
13. Caruso's Grocery
Washington, DC 20003
Capitol HIll’s new throwback red sauce joint celebrates the old-school cocktail with a $10 coupe of homemade espresso-rum liqueur, vanilla bean-infused vodka, and fresh espresso.
14. Anchovy Social
Restaurant magnate Danny Meyer’s hip rooftop hangout in Navy Yard perks up alfresco diners with a martini ($14) full of vodka, espresso, Mr. Black Coffee liqueur, and Madagascar vanilla.