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Learn to craft the perfect espresso martini with Milanese-approved beans, simple syrup, and Caffé Borghetti liquor. Join the aperitivo hour with this recipe.

Musings on Espresso Martinis

by Christina D’Angelo

Every door from every cafe and bar sweeps open as friends greet each other and settle into their seats. Ice rattles in a shaker and a cocktail is gently foamed into a coupe. It's warm-weather aperitivo hour and you could be barside on the Corso Giacomo Matteotti in Milan or at a sidewalk table in SoHo.  

But if you order an espresso martini from Sant Ambroeus Gelateria on Lafayette Street, the battering chips of ice in a silver container isn’t the first sound you’ll hear; it’s the third. 

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Musings on Espresso Martinis

The first is the hushed scoop of the specially sourced espresso beans (a three-continent, Milanese-approved blend decades in the making). But it’s the next sound that makes all the difference —and, no, it’s not the uncorking of a beautifully packaged premade bottle of the cocktail; it’s the blast of the zchuge of the espresso grinder. 

“Therein lies the difference,” says Damiano Coren, the Roman beverage director responsible for bringing the pick-me-up/take-the-edge-off cocktail to New York. “You should always hear the grind of the beans and the crank of the espresso machine.” 

While the espresso is being pulled, Damiano chills the glass and fills the shaker with ice. 

“Another important addition to this recipe,” he says, “is a dash of simple syrup and that’s not just for a hint of sweetness, but this is what gives the drink its heft and beautiful foamy ‘crema.’”

Next he adds a little less than an ounce of Caffé Borghetti liquor, and one-and-a-half ounces of Grey Goose. “Not too much, there needs to be balance,” he explains.

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Musings on Espresso Martinis

“And now you move quickly,” Damiano says. Empty the ice that’s been chilling your glass, and then “you shake the cocktail briefly and vigorously — not too much because you don’t want slivers slipping out.” He pops off the top of the shaker and strains the foamy cocktail as it slips into the coupe. 

Top it off with three espresso beans (health, wealth, and happiness) to the edge of the glass. “Never in the center.” They should be at the opposite of where you sip, because “you don’t want them touching your lips, plus you should be able to enjoy the beans’ scent directly above your nose.”

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The sounds of the city murmur on while shopping bags bustle past you, heels click up to the counter, and the steam whistles from the espresso machine. A chair is pulled out across from you and now your coupe is raised and clinked. You exhale the day's travails and plan for the second (or third act) act of the evening. 

But there’s one more sound you should hear at the end of your drink, an occorrente punctuation mark of sorts: as you tilt back your last sip, the trio of beans still huddle in the foaminess blanketing your glass. That’s when your little spoon on the padded underplate comes into play; swirl it around the coupe, indulge the final froth, tap gently; ting. And now you're onto the rest of your evening — from zchuge to ting and back again, and all the while the sun is still glinting on the brass bends of the marble tabletops. And you’ve just gotten started. 

Sant Ambroeus Matini recipe.


  • 1.5 oz Grey Goose Vodka
  • 0.75 oz Borghetti Caffe 
  • 0.25 oz simple syrup
  • 1 shot (1 oz) Fresh Espresso  
  • 3 Espresso Beans (for garnish) 


Chill a martini glass or coupe. Fill shaker with ice then add Grey Goose Vodka, Borghetti Caffe Liquor, and simple syrup. Now add a shot of espresso and shake vigorously and briefly. Quickly strain into glass and top with three espresso beans.