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I tried Ina Garten’s espresso martini and was tipsy after just a few sips

Summary List PlacementIna Garten became a quarantine role model with her iconic 9 a.m. cosmo. The "Barefoot Contessa" star delighted fans in April 2020 when she whipped up a gigantic cosmopolitan because "it's always cocktail hour in a crisis."  I took her cosmo recipe for a spin and absolutely loved the refreshing bright-pink drink. So when I decided to try making this summer's hottest cocktail, I knew Garten was the perfect person for guidance.  Garten was ahead of the curve when it came to espresso martinis. Garten showed fans how to make the caffeinated cocktail in 2007 during her "Halloween for Grownups" episode.  The "Barefoot...

Anneta with Ina Garten espresso martini

Summary List Placement

Ina Garten became a quarantine role model with her iconic 9 a.m. cosmo.

The “Barefoot Contessa” star delighted fans in April 2020 when she whipped up a gigantic cosmopolitan because “it’s always cocktail hour in a crisis.” 

I took her cosmo recipe for a spin and absolutely loved the refreshing bright-pink drink. So when I decided to try making this summer’s hottest cocktail, I knew Garten was the perfect person for guidance

Garten was ahead of the curve when it came to espresso martinis.

Garten showed fans how to make the caffeinated cocktail in 2007 during her “Halloween for Grownups” episode. 

The “Barefoot Contessa” star told viewers that she wanted a drink that would get everyone “in the Halloween spirit.” 

While I had seen espresso martinis everywhere (even on tap!) when I lived in Australia in 2017, I never really noticed people drinking them in the US until this summer hit. 

It suddenly seemed like every New York City bar was whipping up its own version — and that all of my friends couldn’t get enough of the classy concoction. 

I love an espresso martini but the drink definitely doesn’t come cheap, at least in Manhattan or LA. So I took Garten’s recipe for a spin to see if I could make my own instead. 

Garten’s espresso martini recipe has just three ingredients.

All you need to whip up her drink is: 

  • 2 cups freshly-brewed espresso (chilled) 
  • 2 cups orange-flavored vodka
  • 1 cup coffee liqueur (Garten recommends Kahlua)

It should be noted that these measurements make eight cocktails total. If you want to just mix individual drinks, Garten recommends using 2 ounces of espresso, 2 ounces of orange vodka, and 1 ounce of coffee liqueur per person.

To get started, I brewed some espresso.

Garten notes in her recipe that the coffee for your espresso martini should be “freshly brewed.” 

“I like to make it with decaf,” the “Barefoot Contessa” star explained during her “Halloween for Grownups” episode. “I don’t want to have jittery guests.” 

Since I was making my cocktail just as the afternoon slump was starting to hit, I decided to go with a caffeinated version instead. 

Then I popped my espresso into the fridge and let it chill for a bit.

I waited about 30 minutes before I started making the cocktail to give my coffee some time to cool down.

Then it was time to get mixing! First, I filled up my cocktail shaker halfway with ice.

What I didn’t realize was that Garten actually throws all of her ingredients into a big pitcher first. The step isn’t noted in the Food Network recipe, so I assumed I was just supposed to put everything straight into the shaker. 

My shaker was already almost full when I added the vodka, a clear sign that I had messed up.

When I first tried making the drink, I figured my cocktail shaker was just too small for the recipe. I tried to dump some ice cubes out to make room for the Kahlua, but it didn’t make much of a difference. 

As I poured the Kahlua into the shaker, I knew something was definitely off.

I had already cut the measurements in half to make four drinks instead of eight, but there still wasn’t enough space in the shaker. 

I dumped a little more out before pouring in the rest of the Kahlua and hoped for the best.

Then, it was time to shake.

I screwed the cap on top and shook my cocktail for 30 seconds, per Garten’s instructions.

When I poured the drinks it was obvious that something had gone wrong.

My cocktails didn’t have the signature foamy top that you always see on an espresso martini. But maybe it would taste OK? 

(It did not.) 

When I took my first sip, I knew I needed to try the recipe again.

The alcohol was overwhelming — and not in a fun way. To be honest, it might have been one of the worst drinks I’ve ever made. And I used to chase shots of vodka with water in college. 

I realized that the cocktail wasn’t able to mix or foam because there was almost no space left in the shaker. And so, I went back to the drawing board. 

This time I actually found the episode where Garten makes her espresso martini, and realized I had missed a crucial step.

It was at this point that I realized Garten actually puts all of her ingredients into a big pitcher first and combines them. Then, when it’s time to serve, she mixes each individual drink in the shaker. 

Oh, duh. 

In retrospect it seems obvious, as that’s exactly what Garten did for her big batch of cosmos. But I thought I was just following the recipe! 

Anyway, we live and learn. Time for round two. 

Second time was most definitely the charm. My cocktail came out looking just like a classic espresso martini.

The top had a nice layer of foam, allowing the little coffee beans to pop. Once I added the orange peel twist I couldn’t help but feel proud of myself. This drink looked legit. 

My second version of the drink was also far more balanced when it came to flavor.

The vodka taste wasn’t as overpowering as it had been in the first drink, but it was definitely still strong. If you’re not a huge fan, I’d make the ratio of vodka equal to the Kahlua. 

Garten’s version also has a punchier orange flavor than I’ve seen in other espresso martinis, but I love that she gives a fresh spin to the classic recipe. 

But what surprised me most about Garten’s espresso martini was how strong it is. I was buzzed after a few sips!

I’m no lightweight, but Garten’s cocktail really packs a punch. I didn’t even finish my glass and I was pretty tipsy in the middle of the afternoon! 

So if you’re looking for a drink that will wake you up rather than knock you off your feet (literally), you might want to cut the measurements down a bit. 

But if you’re hoping for a big night out, Garten’s espresso martini is a great way to kick things off. 

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