Espresso-flavored vodkas have been a major part of the modern boom in flavored vodkas, which made up one-fourth of all vodka sales in 2011. Espresso-flavored vodka is an ingredient in a wide range of mixed drinks. It's often deployed to add a note of bitterness to drinks that would otherwise be overpoweringly sweet.
Coffee and Cake
Espresso vodka makes an appearance in several sweet cocktails named after coffee cake. One coffee cake cocktail recipe calls for 8 parts espresso vodka to 1 part cinnamon schnapps and 1 part Irish cream; in essence, it's simply espresso vodka with a splash of the other flavors. A more complicated coffee cake martini calls for 3 parts espresso vodka and cake-flavored vodka to 1 part Irish cream, creating a creamy drink that balances sweetness with a coffee flavor.
Coffee and cinnamon are a natural combination, the slight heat of the cinnamon merging with the smoothness of the espresso. The oatmeal cookie cocktail plays on this combination, blending 3 parts espresso vodka to 1 part each of cinnamon schnapps, butterscotch schnapps and Irish cream. To complete the sweet but spicy experience, this drink can be served garnished with a small ginger cookie.
Triple Espresso Martini
The sweet trend continues in a less pronounced form with the triple espresso martini, which combines 3 parts espresso vodka, 2 parts coconut rum and 1 part Amaretto. The bitter almond liqueur reinforces the coffee bitterness, making this a more balanced recipe than the predominantly sweet cocktails that dominate espresso vodka drinks.
Just a Demitasse
Just as traditional espresso is served in small cups because of its intensely concentrated coffee flavor and caffeine hit, espresso vodka works well in shot drinks that provide an intense taste. The triple shot, despite its name, is effectively a double shot, mixing 2 parts espresso vodka to 1 part hazelnut liqueur and 1 part half-and-half. The cream serves to provide the creamy texture of espresso, while the espresso vodka and hazelnut liqueur blend to provide the smooth coffee kick of an espresso with hazelnut syrup.