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Easy Espresso Martini Recipe Without Kahlua: Quick & Tasty

two glasses of espresso martinis

The espresso martini is one of the greatest inventions in modern times. It provides you with both alcohol and coffee, perfect for relaxing with your friends or enjoying your day off. However, many people don’t like the taste of Kahlua, one of its main ingredients, or would like to find a similar-tasting drink that does not contain alcohol. So, if you like to experiment with new things, keep reading as we provide you with a step-by-step guide to making an espresso martini without Kahlua.

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What You’ll Need

Kahlua Substitutes

If you don’t like the taste of Kahlua but would like to keep the one-two punch of alcohol and caffeine, there are several other coffee liqueurs that you can use.

a bottle of Kahlua
Image Credit: Pixabay

Mr. Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur

Mr. Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur is a fantastic substitute for Kahlua, and it is a good place to start when looking for an alternative. Instead of rum, it uses vodka, and the cold-pressed coffee is smoother and less bitter than the Arabic beans that you find in Kahlua.

Old Fashioned St George Coffee Liqueur

Old Fashioned St George Coffee Liqueur is an excellent substitute for Kahlua when making an espresso martini. It uses New Orleans-style coffee with ingredients like chicory root, vanilla beans, sugar cane, and coffee, giving it a soothing and relaxing flavor that many people enjoy in their espresso martini.

Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee

Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee is a great choice because many enjoy its intense herbal flavor. It is popular to consume it without mixing it with anything else. That said, it does help make an excellent espresso martini, and the bottles are smaller, so it’s a good choice when you only need a few servings.

Instant Coffee and Brown Sugar

If you are looking for an alcohol-free version of the espresso martini, you can substitute the Kahlua with brown sugar and instant coffee.

Espresso Substitutes

As the name suggests, the ingredients of an espresso martini call for espresso. If you have a machine, you can make it fresh, but you can also use a commercial concentrate that you purchase at the grocery store. You can even experiment by substituting instant coffee for espresso. Freshly brewed dark roast is also a good alternative.

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How to Make an Espresso Martini Without Kahlua:


  • 5 oz. vodka
  • 5 oz. Kahlua substitute
  • 5 oz. espresso
  • 5 oz. light cream (optional)
  • 1 tsp. almond syrup (optional)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla syrup (optional)
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 cup instant coffee (optional)
  • Espresso machine
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Strainer

1. Brew the coffee & espresso

If you try the alcohol-free espresso martini that uses instant coffee and brown sugar, start by making a fresh cup of the coffee. Then, add a teaspoon of brown sugar, stir well, and chill.

If you have an espresso machine, begin by brewing your espresso and allowing it to chill.

2. Combined the ingredients

Add your vodka coffee liqueur espresso and simple syrup into a shaker. Shake well.

3. Pour

Use a strainer to catch the ice as you pour the mixture into your glass and enjoy.

a glass of espresso martini
Image Credit: Kike Salazar N, Unsplash

Alternative Ingredients

Almond Syrup

Many people like adding 1 teaspoon of almond syrup, especially when not using Kahlua.

Vanilla Syrup

Vanilla syrup is a good way to remove the bitterness of certain coffees if you find the flavor too harsh. It also helps make it sweeter.

Light Cream

If you like cream in your coffee, there is a good chance that you will also like it in your espresso martini. However, it’s perfectly fine to leave it out. Some people also have success using coconut or oat milk.

two glasses of espresso martinis

Simple Kahlua-Free Espresso Martini Recipe

An espresso martini without Kahlua is an easy-to-make recipe that only requires a few steps, and there aren’t that many ingredients. It’s also highly customizable, so you can switch up the ingredients until you create something that you really enjoy.
5 star average
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Calories 302 kcal


  • Espresso machine
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Strainer


  • 5 oz Vodka
  • 5 oz Kahlua substitute
  • 5 oz Espresso
  • 5 oz Light cream optional
  • 1 tsp Almond syrup optional
  • 1 tsp Vanilla syrup optional
  • 1 tsp Brown sugar optional
  • 1 cup Instant coffee optional


  • Prepare your espresso and/or coffee, and chill.
  • Combine vodka, Kahlua substitute, espresso, and light cream in a shaker with ice, and mix well.
  • Pour the beverage through a small strainer to remove the ice.
  • Add almond or vanilla syrup to enhance the flavor. Enjoy!


Calories: 302kcal

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The Espresso Martini is a fantastic drink at any time of the year, but it’s especially nice in the summer. It has enough caffeine in it to keep you alert, and many of the Kahlua substitutes will provide plenty of kick. It even tastes great if you leave out the alcohol and substitute it with instant coffee and brown sugar. It also only takes a few seconds to make if you already have chilled espresso. So, with a little experimentation, you can make your new favorite drink without needing to add Kahlua.

Featured Image Credit: YesMore Content, Unsplash


Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker, a veteran writer, has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming, and of course, coffee. He drinks a lot of it when he writes, making him an expert indeed. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.

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