Where to Find the Greatest Espresso Martinis in Boston
Caffeine and booze, together in one perfect drink.
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With the post-holiday-season slump in full effect, you might be seeking caffeine to power you through the year’s earliest days—and maybe also some booze to temper the edge. Well, have we got something for you: Below, 12 of Greater Boston’s greatest takes on the classic espresso martini—one foolproof way to get both kinds of buzzes in one excellent drink. There’s something for everyone on this list, from fairly traditional versions to tequila- or rum-based variations, including one with a nod to The Big Lebowski. Enjoy!
This guide was first published on January 5, 2023; watch for periodic updates.
Bricco Ristorante & Enoteca
Bricco’s espresso martini is a boozy Boston staple: This North End restaurant and bar says it has sold over a million servings of the drink over the years. The cocktail combines Absolut Vanilla vodka with Baileys, Kahlúa, Frangelico, and Disaronno, and the foamy top is smooth, thick, and flavorful. Add house-made espresso and a sugar-and-cocoa rim, and Bricco’s espresso martini keeps customers coming back for more. (Note: You can find the same cocktail at Bricco siblings Assaggio and Mare, also in the North End, and Fratelli at Encore Boston Harbor in Everett.)
241 Hanover St., North End, Boston, 617-248-6800, bricco.com.
The aptly named Dessert Before Dinner, Brighton Bodega’s tequila-based take on an espresso martini, features Casa Mexico Reposado and Flor de Caña Spresso, a coffee liqueur, rounded out with cacao and lime. Whether enjoyed before, during, or after dinner at the comfortable Brighton spot, this drink makes a fun pairing for just about anything on the globe-trotting menu.
328 Washington St., Brighton, Boston, 617-208-8698, brightonbodega.com.
“Here at Café Sauvage, we prefer our espresso in our martini,” says the team at this intimate Parisian café and restaurant in Back Bay. Indeed, the menu features two caffeinated cocktails. The Sauvage Espresso’tini starts with spiced rum, espresso liqueur, and Irish cream, and it gets an added boost from cold brew. Espresso martini lovers will also enjoy The Dude: vanilla vodka, espresso liqueur, pumpkin spices, and milk.
25 Massachusetts Ave., Back Bay, Boston, 857-277-0075, cafesauvage.com.
Teleport to Italy and enjoy a scoop of house-made gelato with your martini at this family-owned North End sweet spot. No matter how much pasta you’ve treated yourself to for dinner elsewhere in the neighborhood, there’s always room for Paradiso’s espresso martini, made with Absolut, coffee liqueur, Bailey’s, and espresso. Try that, and then try the delightful pistachio martini, which comes topped with pistachio gelato.
255 Hanover St., North End, Boston, 617-742-1768, caffeparadisoboston.com.
Cloud & Spirits
Looking for an espresso martini-inspired drink that’s a little bit outside of the box? Try Cloud & Spirits’ twist on the classic, the Banana Espress. It’s made with vanilla vodka, amaretto, banana milk, and espresso, and topped off with a Ferrero Rocher bonbon. Enjoy it as a nightcap on Friday night while checking out the restaurant’s weekly live music.
795 Main St., Central Square, Cambridge, 617-945-1158, cloudandspirits.com.
Jaho Coffee Roaster & Wine Bar
Of course this small local chain of boozy cafes makes a killer espresso martini—and as long as Boston allows it, it’s available to go. Get it as is or with a dash of Bailey’s to add some creaminess. The Vietnamese coffee martini will also hit the spot. Find them—and lots of other caffeinated and/or alcoholic treats—at a handful of locations around Boston and Salem, with a Cambridge outpost coming soon.
Multiple locations, jaho.com.
This tiny North End hot spot—which has a newer, more expansive sibling at Somerville’s Assembly Row—jokingly named its espresso martini “Voted Boston’s Best,” a wink to the neighborhood’s ubiquitous signage proclaiming “Boston’s best” this and “Boston’s best” that. But the name is warranted: It is one of the best around, featuring “dope chocolate liqueur,” “hazelnut love,” and “creamy goodness” with the requisite vodka and fresh espresso. Come for the espresso martini, but stay for Parla’s “Dungeon Master” cocktail program, where the roll of a 20-sided die gets you a mystery drink.
230 Hanover St., North End, Boston, 617-367-2824, parlaboston.com.
The Quiet Few
Whiskey and coffee lovers, rejoice. The Quiet Few—a self-described “neighborhood whiskey tavern” in East Boston with “no frills, couple of spills”—features a whiskey-based version of an espresso martini. The cocktail, dubbed Coffee and Cigarettes, has a base of German rye whiskey, whose dark chocolate and coffee notes mix well with Galliano Ristretto (an espresso liqueur) and cold brew. You might just come out of there thinking that vodka in an espresso martini is so last year.
331 Sumner St., East Boston, 617-561-1061, thequietfew.com.
This elegant Newbury Street classic has always boasted a see-and-be-seen vibe, and what better way to enjoy that than with a cocktail in hand? While the cocktail list focuses heavily on Negroni variations, don’t miss the rest, including a pretty traditional but especially well-made espresso martini with vanilla vodka, Baileys, Kahlúa, and espresso. (Note: Sonsie is undergoing renovations in January 2023 and expects to reopen in February, so doublecheck its website for updates before heading over.)
327 Newbury St., Back Bay, Boston, 617-351-2500, sonsieboston.com.
Tradesman Coffee Shop and Lounge
Built for comfort, this classy yet cozy downtown café and bar—and its sibling in Charlestown—is particularly well-loved for its espresso martini (but don’t miss the over-the-top croissants during the day at the downtown location). It’s made with vanilla vodka, Kahlúa, and Baileys, and it’s not the only coffee-meets-booze option on the menu: Tradesman offers coffee-spiked twists on an Old Fashioned and a Negroni, and there’s a boozy vanilla latte, too.
The Wig Shop
At the Wig Shop, the JM Curley and Bogie’s Place sibling that opened in 2022, bar manager Oscar Simoza’s favorite drink on the menu, Rise & Grind, will wake you right up; in fact, the bar will only serve you one of these per visit thanks to its high caffeine content. The drink—not exactly an espresso martini, but it scratches that itch—combines rum with cold brew coffee, the espresso liqueur Borghetti, cinnamon-demerara, whipped cream, and sea salt, with a mini chocolate-covered pretzel on the side.
27 Temple Pl., Downtown Crossing, Boston, 617-338-6333, wigshopboston.com.
This swanky downtown destination has plenty of creative cocktails, including some large-format options, but it pays equal attention to a few classics like an espresso martini. Yvonne’s take is a bit stronger on the espresso flavor and less like a dessert than others on this list because it sticks to the traditional recipe of vodka, espresso, and Kahlúa—no Irish cream. (Vanilla syrup rounds out the drink.)
2 Winter Pl., Downtown Crossing, Boston, 617-267-0047, yvonnesboston.com.