Dairy free

Do Espresso Martinis Have Dairy?

Espresso martini sends me to a nutty ecstasy—awesomely delicious and refreshing—and is exactly what any taste buds would crave. It is great for any occasion, including my signature tiramisu dessert recipe, where I dip the lady fingers in a base of espresso martini—pure bliss! But is Espresso Martini dairy-free? We have detailed everything you need to know about Espresso Martini and dairy, let’s explore!

What Are Espresso Martinis?

The espresso martini is one of those cocktails that incorporate martini into its name but isn’t a true martini as neither vermouth nor gin is one of its constituents. The traditional form is derived from a mixture of espresso, vodka, and coffee liqueur (usually Tia Maria or Kahlua).

This alcoholic caffeinated drink was invented around 1983 by Dick Bradsell, a London-based bartender who worked at Fred’s Club. This cocktail was inspired by the request of a popular model at the time, who requested a drink that could “wake her up and smash her up.”.

There are numerous ways to personalize an espresso Martini to taste, and playing around with a few ingredients can help you achieve that. While most people prefer Dick’s style, others add cream liqueur or a splash of milk, which creates a semblance of Mudslide.


Ingredient Contribution to Espresso Martini
Vodka 40%: primary alcoholic base, which provides strength and character
Freshly brewed espresso 30%: Signature coffee flavor and caffeine kick
Coffee Liqueur 20%: Enhances coffee notes and adds sweetness and depth.
Simple Syrup 5%: Adjusts sweetness and balances flavors
Ice 5%: chills and dilutes, contributing to texture and temperature

Taste and Texture

Espresso Martini, a luscious cocktail renowned for its bold coffee flavor and smooth texture, combines freshly brewed espresso, vodka, coffee liqueur, and a touch of sweetness from simple syrup, which delivers a harmonious blend of rich coffee undertones and a balanced sweetness.

Served chilled in a martini glass, the drink boasts a velvety texture, often crowned with a creamy foam for added indulgence. It’s a perfect marriage of caffeine kick and cocktail sophistication, making it a favorite choice for those seeking a luxurious and invigorating drink.

Do Espresso Martinis Have Dairy?

Espresso Martini doesn’t contain dairy. The vodka, freshly brewed espresso, coffee liqueur (Tia Maria, Khalua), and simple syrup do not contain dairy. These components focus on the rich coffee flavor and the alcoholic kick of vodka, without the addition of dairy.

However, some recipes may include milk or cream to make the cocktail creamier or to balance the flavor, so it is important to inform the bartender beforehand not to include any form of dairy derivative. If you’re making the cocktail yourself, make sure to source dairy-free ingredients.

Potential Dairy Inclusion In Espresso Martinis

If you’re ever going to encounter dairy in your Espresso Martini, these are the common sources:

  • Cream: The inclusion of cream in an espresso Martini can usher in a creamier texture, creating a luxurious mouthfeel that balances the strong coffee flavor. This version is usually called “Creamy Espresso Martini.”
  • Milk: Just like the cream, the milk significantly impacts the cocktail, creating a smoother consistency with a touch of creaminess. If you need that milk but don’t want to deal with dairy, almond or oat milk can equally do the trick.
  • Condensed milk: Some recipes call for the addition of condensed milk as it adds a distinct sweetness while also thickening the cocktail.

Brands that offer dairy-free coffee liqueur

When making Espresso Martinis at home, these are my go-to coffee liqueurs that are dairy-free and taste just great.

Cafetino Vegan Coffee Liqueur

This cold-brew coffee liqueur has a creamy coffee color and a rich, delicious coconut note. It is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.


I know I am not the only one who has this coffee liqueur as one of their favorites. The original version is free from dairy; however, the company also makes versions that contain dairy. Kahlua contains sugar and vodka and is usually flavored with caramel, vanilla, and mocha. It has a smooth and rich taste and perfectly works for the Espresso Martini.

Tia Maria

This is another awesome coffee liqueur. It is just as sweet as the Kahlua, but quite darker in flavor. Beyond espresso, it also works well with Revolver and White Russian.

Mr Black

Mr. Black affirms on their website that their product is free from any form of animal by-product, including dairy. It is made from a combination of water, sugar cane, grain alcohol, and coffee. Mr. Black has an assertive dry, slightly bitter espresso and dark chocolate with a faint vanilla taste.

Ordering Dairy-Free Espresso Martinis at Bars and Restaurants

Start by checking the menu to see if the establishment offers dairy-free alternatives or if the classic recipe inherently excludes dairy. If it’s not explicitly mentioned, don’t hesitate to ask the bartender about the ingredients in their Espresso Martini and whether any dairy or cream is typically used.

Communicate your preference for a dairy-free version, emphasizing that you’d like to enjoy the rich coffee flavor without any milk or cream additions.

Specify your choice of non-dairy milk if you have a preference, such as almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk. Additionally, inquire about the sweetness level and adjust it according to your taste. A well-crafted Espresso Martini can be just as delightful without dairy, providing a smooth and flavorful blend of freshly brewed espresso and spirits.


Although milk or cream may be added to some recipes to give the beverage more creaminess or to balance its flavor, classic espresso martinis do not contain dairy.

Cortiso Davids

My culinary adventure began at an early age when I would stand on a chair to help my mom stir pancake batter. Over the years, I've honed my skills and knowledge, drawing inspiration from family recipes, celebrated chefs, and the vibrant food cultures that make our world so diverse and fascinating.

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