An elevated espresso martini recipe with gelato (or ice cream) to transform it into a creamy, decadent affogato martini.
Espresso martinis are fantastic, but what happens when you add gelato and a few more complex flavors to the typical recipe? Magic is what happens. This affogato martini recipe is coffee-forward, rich, complex, slightly sweet, and absolutely delicious.
I should note that if you’re looking for an espresso martini recipe with the usual suspects (vodka, espresso, coffee liqueur, rich simple syrup), you should definitely check out this post. But THIS affogato martini recipe is a bit more sophisticated, with rye (or bourbon), amaro, brown sugar syrup, and gelato (or ice cream). It’s the perfect after dinner drink. Or brunch drink. 😉
- 1 oz. freshly brewed Espresso, room temperature or chilled
- 1 ½ oz. Rye, Bourbon, Aged Rum, or Vodka
- ½ oz. Amaro
- 1 oz. Coffee Liqueur
- ½ oz. Brown Sugar Syrup
- 1 scoop Vanilla Bean Gelato (or your favorite)
- 3 Espresso Beans, for garnish
Espresso : Fresh espresso is the best choice for this martini. If you have an espresso machine at home, that’s perfect. If not, you could grab an espresso shot (or two) from your favorite local coffee shop. Either way, the flavor difference of fresh espresso makes a difference so it’s highly recommended. Be sure to let it cool to at least room temperature before using it in this recipe, otherwise it will immediately melt the ice in the cocktail shaker and you’ll have a diluted cocktail. If you don’t have access to espresso, you can use a cold brew concentrate instead.
Spirit (Rye, Bourbon, Aged Rum, or Vodka) : Rye whiskey offers a slightly spicy note that pairs well with the sweetness in this martini recipe, so that’s usually my preference. If you prefer the slight sweetness and caramel flavors of bourbon, use that in place of rye. Aged rum (like Plantation Grande Reserve) adds a delicious complexity and a touch of sweetness to this martini, so if you haven’t tried that before, I also highly recommended it! A lot of homemade espresso martinis are made with vodka, so that’s totally an option, too.
Amaro : Amaro is a super interesting liqueur made in Italy. You’ll see an array of amaro options at the store, and they all taste different. (Confusing, right?) J. Rieger Co. Amaro is amaro made in Kansas City, and it contains coffee notes that are absolutely perfect in an affogato martini. Rieger distributes nationally, so you should be able to find it at most liquor stores. A great substitute would be Montenegro Amaro or Averna Amaro. (I also use Averna Amaro in this Witty Comeback cocktail, which is rye-based and SO good!)
Coffee Liqueur : The two coffee liqueurs I have on my bar cart are Mr. Black and Forthave “Brown”. Mr. Black is the easier of the two to find, and it is delicious. Forthave “Brown” (Coffeee Liqueur) is my true favorite, but it’s not as easy to find. Kahlua is quite popular in homemade espresso martini recipes, but it’s actually really sweet compared to true coffee liqueurs. It’s by far the easiest of the three to find, so it does win the convenience factor. Personally, I think it’s worth finding a true coffee liqueur for this martini recipe. (Just to note, Kahlua is pretty sweet, and Mr. Black is more coffee-forward. Forthave is also more coffee-forward, but has a richness and complexity that really adds to this cocktail. You can use whichever you can find, or whichever you prefer!)
Brown Sugar Syrup : This is just like simple syrup, but made with brown sugar to give it more depth and richness. (Simple syrup is made using a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water, stirred together over medium heat until the sugar is totally dissolved into the water.) A good place to start is 1/2 cup each of brown sugar and water. Combine both in a small sauce pan, turn the heat underneath the pan to medium, then stir the sugar and water together until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature before using. (For this photo, I actually used a bottled Jack Rudy Demerara Syrup, which is fantastic if you can find it!)
Vanilla Bean Gelato : A traditional affogato is made with vanilla bean gelato. Salted caramel gelato or coffee flavored gelato are perfect alternatives. And yes, you can absolutely use ice cream instead of gelato. 🙂
I know I kind of made this recipe into a create-your-own-adventure situation, but you should totally have fun with it! No combination is going to be bad, and chances are if you’re using ingredients that you know you enjoy, you’re going to enjoy the finished result. 🙂
How to Make an Affogato Martini
1. Combine your spirit of choice, espresso, amaro, coffee liqueur, and brown sugar syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker halfway with ice, and shake for 20-30 seconds until the shaker is almost too cold to handle.
2. Strain the chilled cocktail directly into a chilled coupe glass, then place a scoop of vanilla bean gelato into the glass. Garnish with three espresso beans.
That’s it! Easy. Sourcing the ingredients is the hardest part of this recipe, but once you have everything you need, it comes together in no time. If you make extra brown sugar syrup, it’s fantastic in iced coffee. Just FYI! 🙂
Feel free to play around with different flavor combinations until you achieve your perfect version, then immediately email me and tell me what that combination is! Seriously. The best part of creating cocktails is the variety in preference from person to person; that’s why we have so many options. 🙂
If you’re looking for a straight-forward espresso martini recipe with vodka, you have to check out this Espresso Martini recipe! I developed that espresso martini recipe to be simple, coffee-heavy, and created with vodka as the spirit.
The gelato used in these photos is actually a coffee flavored gelato, which was absolutely delicious. I mentioned it before, but it’s worth mentioning again: vanilla gelato is the traditional gelato flavor for an affogato, but this recipe doesn’t have to adhere to tradition. Salted caramel gelato, chocolate gelato, coffee gelato, or truly any flavor that you love will work with this affogato martini recipe. Ice cream will absolutely work, too.
If you make this affogato martini recipe and love it, I would definitely appreciate a recipe rating and even a comment below! You can also tag me on Instagram or Facebook so I can share your beautiful cocktail on my stories! If you have any specific questions about the ingredients, please don’t hesitate to send me an email so I can try to help. Cheers!
- 1 1/2 oz. Rye, Bourbon, Aged Rum, or Vodka
- 1 oz. freshly brewed Espresso cooled to room temperature
- 1/2 oz. Amaro *
- 1 oz. Coffee Liqueur **
- 1/2 oz. Brown Sugar Syrup ***
- 1 scoop Vanilla Bean Gelato ****
- 3 Espresso Beans for garnish
- Combine your spirit of choice, chilled espresso, amaro, coffee liqueur, and brown sugar syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker halfway with ice, and shake for 20-30 seconds until the shaker is almost too cold to handle.
- Strain the chilled cocktail directly into a chilled coupe glass, then place a scoop of gelato into the glass. Garnish with three espresso beans