Food & Recipes

Fran’s Ultimate Guide to a Delicious Virgin Espresso Martini

It’s no wonder espresso martinis are so popular. The caffeine-infused cocktail is sophisticated, elegant, and bold. It’s both stylish and delicious to drink during a special night out or while hosting a luxurious night in. And the best part is, you don’t need the alcohol to enjoy the indulgence of an espresso martini. 

You can make an elevated virgin espresso martini that will impress any guest.

Understanding Your Patrons: Customizing the Experience

As a host, it’s important to provide guests with experiences and indulgences that meet their unique tastes and lifestyles. Offering a virgin cocktail option is the perfect way to make all guests feel included. 

Virgin espresso martinis are a great alcohol-free option because they are elegant and customizable for each guest. You can make impressive, inspired virgin espresso martinis by stealing techniques from your favorite upscale cafes and delivering unique combinations of flavors that accentuate the coffee appeal while providing a custom, crafted experience.

At your next gathering, offer a high-end virgin espresso martini bar while still leaving yourself room for hosting and socializing by batching the recipe for the base of the mocktail. Prepare 6-8 servings of the virgin espresso martini at a time, and then provide an array of options that guests can use to make their cocktail their own. 


Personal Gatherings: A Touch of Class

Entertaining is an act of love. Offering an alcohol-free option at your gathering is a way to cherish all guests by providing inclusivity with a touch of class. You can ensure all guests feel welcome by providing options that match the moment in life, whether they are choosing to participate in dry January or remove alcohol from their lives temporarily or forever. 

Related: Hosting the Ultimate Dinner Experience


Delight for the Senses: The Art of Presentation

The best mocktails are both pleasing to the palate and to the eye. Delight guests by paying close attention to the virgin espresso martini’s ingredients and presentation. Make the mocktail more interesting, intriguing, and irresistible with an artful presentation that uses:

  • Creative garnishes
  • Beautiful glassware
  • Artistic arrangements
  • Layered ingredients
  • Dipped glass rims 
  • Latte art (dusting that creates patterns and designs)

A carefully crafted mocktail can spark curiosity, ignite conversations, and prompt people to try something new or unfamiliar.


Masterful Garnishing

Give your guests something to remember by dressing up your virgin espresso martini with ingenious garnishing techniques that demand attention. As you choose garnishes, select accents that dazzle visually, while also adding additional complexity and layers of flavor to the mocktail.

Consider these virgin espresso martini garnishes:

  • Coffee Beans: After shaking or mixing the cocktail, float a few roasted coffee beans on top of the foam.
  • Vanilla Bean: Split the bean lengthwise with a sharp knife, leaving it attached at one end. After preparing your espresso martini, carefully place the split vanilla bean into the drink. 
  • Sugar Rim: Take simple syrup, water, or a lemon wedge and rub it along the outer rim of the glass. Pour sugar onto a small plate. Tilt the moistened rim of the glass and gently press it into the plate of sugar, rotating it slightly to coat the entire rim evenly.
  • Cocoa Powder: Rim the glass with cocoa powder similar to the sugar rim. Or, lightly dust a small amount of cocoa powder on top of the drink itself using a fine-mesh sieve or a shaker with a fine sprinkle opening.
  • Chocolate Shavings: Use a vegetable peeler or a specialized chocolate shaver to create thin shavings from a chocolate bar. Delicately place the chocolate shavings on top of the drink.
  • Orange or Lemon Twist: Using a citrus zester, channel knife, or sharp paring knife, carefully remove a long, thin strip of the outer peel from the fruit. Drape the twisted citrus peel over the rim of the glass or float it on the surface of the cocktail.
  • Cinnamon Stick: Insert the cinnamon stick vertically in the center of the cocktail or lean it against the side of the glass.
  • Whipped Cream: Whip heavy cream in a bowl until it reaches stiff peaks. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream on top of the drink. Ensure that the whipped cream sits gently on the surface without sinking into the cocktail.
  • Mint Sprig: Rinse and dry fresh, bright sprigs of fresh mint, and place the mint sprig as a garnish. You can gently slap or clap the mint sprig between your hands before adding it to the drink to release its aromatic oils and enhance its fragrance.
  • Edible Flowers: Choose small, fresh, and pesticide-free edible flowers such as pansies, violets, roses, or lavender blossoms. Float flowers on top of the drink or arrange them artistically to create an appealing visual presentation.

The Elegance of Glassware

To create real magic with a mocktail, choose the right glass. Beautiful high-end glassware can make a mocktail feel intoxicating even without alcohol. 

Martini Glass: Give guests elegance and sophistication with every sip by serving virgin espresso martinis in traditional martini glasses. The iconic long, slender stem and wide-rim bowl allow aromas to rise while providing a perfect canvas for cocktail garnishes. 

Coupe Glass: To veer from tradition while maintaining the classy refinement of an espresso martini, serve guests cocktails in a coupe glass, such as the Heron from Fran Berger Living’s exclusive collection of artisan crystal glassware. Like martini glasses, coupe glasses also have a long stem and wide rim perfect for showcasing the bold flavors and visual delights of a virgin espresso martini.

Cordial Glass: If you want to give guests an option to sample and sip different variations of virgin espresso martinis, use cordial glasses. Cordial glasses are small stemmed glasses that hold only about 1.5 to 2 ounces, giving guests an option to savor in small doses. 

Related: Sipping in Style: A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Stemware


Assembling the Mocktail: The Personal Brew

With so many combinations to choose from, you can make a virgin espresso martini as unique as you are. As you assemble the mocktail, start with a delicious base recipe and elevate the flavors by choosing the best ingredients and your favorite embellishments.

Irreplaceable Components: The Essentials

A virgin espresso martini needs a few essential ingredients to make the base of your mocktail. Select these essentials, but also don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to your ingredients or mixology. 

Infuse your signature style by selecting unique flavors that will make your espresso martini stand out against anything else your guests have had before. For example, consider adding a citrus twist, chocolatey richness, or smoky flavor profile.   

    • Espresso: Use high-quality, freshly brewed espresso as the foundation of your drink. Choose your espresso beans based on their flavor profiles and boldness. We recommend Onyx Coffee Lab’s Southern Weather which has notes of chocolate, plum, and candied walnuts
    • Simple Syrup: Simple syrup is a liquid sweetener made by dissolving sugar or honey in water. Instead of buying premade simple syrup (which can be too sugary and sweet), make your own using high-quality, local honey. Simply dissolve the honey in boiling water and let cool before use. 
    • Coffee Liqueur Substitute: Keep the classic flavors of an espresso martini while leaving the alcohol out by choosing a crafted, non-alcoholic coffee liqueur like Lyre's Coffee Originale. 

The Brew Blueprint: Detailed Instructions

To craft the perfect virgin espresso martini, we have a foolproof recipe that is guaranteed to impress your guests. This recipe uses homemade simple syrup to add a sweetness that is not overpowering and a non-alcoholic coffee liqueur that replicates the flavors of the traditional cocktail without using vodka or coffee liqueur. 


  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 oz espresso (double shot)
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1.5 oz Lyre's Coffee Originale
  • Cocoa powder for garnish
  • Chocolate-covered coffee beans to garnish


  1. Add honey, 1/4 cup water, and vanilla bean paste to a small pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 2 minutes and remove from the heat. Let the syrup cool
  2. Pour a small amount of the syrup into a saucer and dip the rim of a martini glass into it to moisten.
  3. Dip the moistened martini glass rim in cocoa powder. 
  4. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  5. Add heavy cream, 2 teaspoons of vanilla honey syrup, espresso, and Lyre's Coffee Originale to the shaker. Cover and shake vigorously.
  6. Pour into the prepared martini glass through a cocktail strainer. Garnish with 3 coffee beans and enjoy while cold.

Remember, this is just a place to start when crafting delicious virgin espresso martinis. Use this recipe as your base and then add your personality and flair to create the perfect signature mocktail. 


Serve a Delicious Virgin Espresso Martini at Your Next Event

Espresso martinis are elegant and sophisticated, and they don’t need to include alcohol to be delicious and indulgent. Give your guests a sip of sophistication at your next event while being inclusive and welcoming to all. Mix up an impressive virgin espresso martini that will have everyone looking forward to your next mocktail creation. 

Get more tips for hosting your next carefully curated gathering. Read all of Fran Berger’s guides about artful hosting here.



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