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Officially kicking off the holiday season with this cozy Vanilla Espresso Martini. Homemade vanilla and honey simple syrup, mixed with the classic espresso martini ingredients of vodka, Kahlúa, and a shot of espresso. This is the perfect subtle twist on the classic espresso martini cocktail, and it’s a delicious holiday treat to cap the night with.

side angled photo of Vanilla Espresso Martini

When I was dreaming up the last cocktail Saturday before Thanksgiving, I knew I wanted it to be the perfect after-dinner drink to officially welcome the start of the holiday season. My first thought was a new twist on a White Russian. I love a White Russian more than you know. It’s been a favorite cocktail ever since I created my The North Pole Cocktail a few years back. It’s a holiday favorite.

But, I was bored. Yes, White Russians are great, but I’ve shared a few, and I wanted to try something new. Maybe something I wasn’t even thinking of. So, I put the feelers out to my family. My cousin Maggie came back immediately with an espresso martini. And then within seconds, my sister-in-law Lynds said the very same thing.

I took that as a sign and ran with the idea, adding only a small twist, but one that really makes all the difference. Lynds was against any major twist, so I settled on a homemade vanilla honey syrup that adds that special touch I was really looking for. Normally, I’m not one for a martini, but this espresso martini has changed everything for me. It’s similar to a White Russian, just minus the cream.

close up photo of Vanilla Espresso Martini

Here is how to make a vanilla espresso martini.

It’s EASY. Start with the honey syrup, which is literally just honey and a vanilla bean simmered together until the vanilla infuses the honey with flavor. Two simple ingredients that make all the difference.

Shake the honey syrup with vodka, Kahlúa, and a shot of espresso. You’ll get a sweet martini, with just the right amount of espresso, and hints of vanilla. Simple to mix up, but oh so GOOD.

The key to a good espresso martini is all in that frothy top. I know it might seem like a hard thing to achieve, but it’s actually very easy. You just need to really shake the drink together with ice for a good minute to create the froth. The harder you shake, the more froth you’ll get. If you’ve got some anger to work out, this is a great task.

I wanted to make the drink sparkle and shine, so I rimmed the glass with a sweet vanilla sugar (simply sugar mixed with vanilla bean seeds). It’s so simple to make, but creates an extra-special drink that’s really fitting for a holiday night.

And that’s pretty much it. It’s a classic, but with a small twist that makes it even better. This one is perfect for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Enjoy guys!!

Vanilla Espresso Martini |

Looking for other easy after-dinner holiday drinks? Here are my favorites: 

Spicy Pomegranate Moscow Mule

Vanilla Chai Old Fashioned

Spiced Cranberry Rosé Spritzers

Lastly, if you make this Vanilla Espresso Martini, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Vanilla Espresso Martini

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories Per Serving: 724 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.


Vanilla Honey

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 vanilla bean ( or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
  • vanilla sugar, for rim (optional)



  • 1. To make the vanilla honey syrup. In a medium pot, bring 1/4 cup water, the honey, and vanilla to a boil over high heat. Boil 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Let cool. This syrup makes enough for about 6 drinks.
    2. If desired, rim your glass with vanilla sugar.
    3. In a cocktail shaker, combine 2-3 teaspoons honey syrup, vodka, Kahlua, and espresso. Add ice and shake vigorously for 1 minute. Strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with a couple of coffee beans, if desired. 


Vanilla Sugar: Mix 1/4 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder or 1/2 a vanilla bean, seeds scraped. 
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    1. Hey Suzann,
      Happy Friday! I love to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks so much for giving it a try! xTieghan

    1. Hey Whitney,
      Fantastic! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I am so glad it was enjoyed!❄️ A White Russian would be yummy with the vanilla honey. xTieghan

  1. This is such a lovely cocktail! Added bonus is it is easy to make pitcher style – using the whole batch of syrup and six quantities of espresso and liquors. Just for fun I swapped the vodka for whisky ?❤️ We are totally serving Irish espresso martinis this Thanksgiving! Thank you for an easy and wonderful recipe?

    1. Hi Amanda,
      I am so glad that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a bunch for trying it out! Happy Thanksgiving! xTieghan

  2. I can’t wait to try this holiday recipe! I also love that martini glass – any intel on where it is from? Thanks!

  3. 5 stars
    Just tried this on a whim tonight! I’ve never had an espresso martini before but realized I had all the ingredients at home already so figured why not! I was surprised at how easy this was an how YUMMY it is! Will definitely make this again.

    1. Hey Maddie,
      Happy Labor Day!?? Thanks a lot for giving this recipe a try, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! xTieghan

  4. 5 stars
    This is sooo good! Made this for my family (all the adults!) and it is a new fave. I brewed the espresso in a Nespresso machine and let it cool, followed the recipe and was delighted with the results!

    Thank you!

    1. Hey Kari,
      Espresso really works best here, if you do coffee you want it to be extra strong:) I hope you love the recipe! xTieghan

  5. 5 stars
    Made this last night cozied up to the fireplace. Really great! Thank you!
    Requesting you to make some more warm/ hot cocktails to finish off this winter with if possible…
    cause your drinks are awesome!!!

    1. Hey Sarah,
      Thanks so much! Yes, totally fine to make the vanilla honey in advance. I hope you love the recipe. Please let me know if you have any other questions! Happy New Year! xTieghan

  6. 4 stars
    Love this recipe! We went with the lower amount of honey vanilla syrup and it was still really sweet, so I might try it with 1tsp syrup next time since I don’t like my cocktails too sweet. Thank you Tieghan!

    1. Hey Christine,
      Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try, I am thrilled that it worked out for you. Happy Holidays! xTieghan

  7. Hi! I am allergic to vodka, would gin or tequila be strange with this? What would you recommend as a replacement for vodka?

    1. Hey Melody,
      I have only tried this with vodka, but I think gin might work well if you want to use that. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! Happy Holidays! xTieghan

  8. 4 stars
    The vanilla honey simple syrup intrigued me. The martini was really good, and definitely needed the simple syrup, but I”m not sure the vanilla flavor shone through as much as I was expecting. Nevertheless, will be definitely making it again!