Welcome to Add to Bar Cart, where Cool Material’s writers and editors recommend the spirits that they’re enjoying most right now.
The Espresso Martini had a bit of a moment in 2022. It was a long time coming — I covered the increased occurrence on drink menus at New York City cocktail bars back in 2018 — and the United States was very late on the Espresso Martini train compared to its popularity in Australia and Europe. Yet these days, it’s hard to find a cocktail bar that hasn’t put its own spin on the modern classic across the country.
But at home, only the rarified few with an espresso machine could come close to replicating the drink at home. XXI Martinis makes it easier to get close to the taste of the original, and all you have to do is pour it over ice, give it a shake, and pour it into a glass.
ABV: 15 percent (30 proof)
Where it’s available: Nevada, Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia, Massachusetts
XXI Martini Espresso: The Backstory
Launched in 2022, XXI Martinis is based out of Columbus, Ohio. The vodka-based cream liqueur was created by businessman Shannon Keeran and Las Vegas bartender Angelo Bottley. Keeran met Bottley at Bellagio’s Club Privé, and the business went forward from there. Since launching, their spirits brand has gotten some attention as a gold medal winner at the ADI2022 International Spirits Competition.
It rides the tides of a few trends that drove drinking last year. The first, of course, is the hubbub over Espresso Martinis. The second is the desire for bar-quality cocktails that people can drink at home. Sure, the pandemic-era restrictions that kept us from bars are largely gone. Yet the desire to drink better at home didn’t leave — despite the fact that even the best home bars lack many of the things that set a bar’s cocktail apart from one made in your own kitchen. Which is why ready-to-drink beverages became all the rage, and that’s not showing any signs of slowing down.
What the XXI Martini Espresso Tastes Like
First things first: This does not taste like your favorite Espresso Martini. That said, it does hit similar notes, albeit with a creamier approach. The XXI Espresso has a hit of coffee mixed with a creamy sweetness. It’s more like a tiramisu mixed with an Espresso Martini.
Over the holidays, I put it on ice as a lazy man’s breakfast cocktail that played double duty as a pick-me-up. Over an afternoon as children assembled their presents, I put a splash in my coffee as a sweetener like I would an Irish cream liqueur. After dinner, I drizzled some over ice cream.
The drink surely satisfies a sweet tooth while delivering hints of coffee beans and cream. Waffles, breakfast sausage, dessert — all get a nice boost from sipping XXI Martini on the rocks.
Why You Should Add XXI Martini Espresso To Your Bar Cart
The enthusiasm for Espresso Martinis may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean it’s going anywhere. Ditch the cold brew and stop trying to make a sub-par replacement with drip coffee by keeping a bottle on hand to easily chill and pour when the craving strikes or to get a winter dinner party started.