The Best Espresso Martinis in Philadelphia

A dozen of our city’s caffeinated cocktails actually worth drinking.

espresso martini

Espresso martini selection at the Elephant / Photograph courtesy of the Elephant

There are a lot of reasons to love espresso martinis. They’re stimulation and relaxation in a single glass, offering us a caffeinated kick with a bit of booze to take off the edge. Made with vodka, espresso, and coffee liqueur, they’re simple yet fun and sophisticated — a blank canvas for bartenders to showcase their creativity, from unconventional garnishes like parmesan cheese and cannoli to innovative flavor combinations like banana and limoncello. And most of all, espresso martinis are visually exciting — a novelty turned hot commodity in the social media attention economy. After all, nothing rakes in more social currency than a photo of you holding a sexy drink at a hip and trendy bar.

But none of those perks would be so damn delicious! They’re creamy, sweet, and smooth, perfect as a stand-alone dessert or a luscious aperitif.

Whether you’re an avid fan looking for an over-the-top drink or someone looking for a classy coffee cocktail, we’ve got you covered. Here’s where to find the tastiest and most exciting espresso martinis in Philadelphia.

The Elephant Bar & Restaurant, Center City

Unlike its previous iterations, the White Elephant holiday pop-up, and the limited-time Valentine’s Day Pink Elephant and St. Patrick’s Day Green Elephant experiences, this version of the Elephant is here to stay.

To say this place is a vibe is an understatement. As soon as you pass through the door underneath the giant elephant head, you are transported into an Instagram fever dream. The entire restaurant is jungle-themed, with chandeliers, twinkle lights, and fake Spanish moss hanging from fake trees. There’s a full-body mirror with the words “Espresso Yourself” written in neon lights above it. There are photo ops galore. It’s also the only place I’ve ever witnessed a gaggle of influencers filming a bartender making it rain coffee beans over an espresso martini tower. (I filmed it too — you can see it right now on Philly Mag’s Instagram.)

I would expect no less. Because a place dedicated to coffee-laced libations better bring the same level of over-the-top, borderline hedonistic energy as the espresso martini. But aside from the aesthetics, the espresso martinis at the Elephant are just as tasty as they are pretty. There are 11 different espresso martinis to choose from. If you want an espresso martini that’s more like dessert, try their banana-cream-pudding flavor, made with Absolut Vanilla, Irish cream, banana liqueur and espresso, topped with whipped cream and a caramelized banana. 1500 Locust Street

Enswell, Center City

If vodka isn’t your spirit of choice, try Enswell’s Haymaker, a whiskey cocktail made with Rival Bros. espresso and sweetened with a bit of orgeat. And if you’re looking for a N/A variation, there’s the espresso tonic with a hint of orange syrup. 1528 Spruce Street.

W Philadelphia, Center City

Who doesn’t love a drink with a little snack? The Italian Market Espresso Martini at the W’s Living Room (the lobby bar) is a smooth, rich espresso martini topped with a classic ricotta-filled mini cannoli from none other than Isgro Pastries. 1439 Chestnut Street.

Gran Caffè L’Aquila, Rittenhouse

A place with over 20 kinds of espresso on their Caffè Italiano menu is all but guaranteed to serve up a sublime espresso martini. Called the Gran Caffè Martini, this luxurious cocktail includes a little dash of Meletti chocolate liqueur. 1716 Chestnut Street.

R&D, Fishtown

Here, the alchemy of mixology meets the artistry of culinary exploration. And though R&D embraces experimentation, it also celebrates the classics. Their take on the espresso martini captures the cocktail’s dark and mysterious allure with vodka, amaro, vanilla and coffee. 1206 Frankford Avenue.

espresso martini

The ube espresso martini from Bánh Mì and Bottles. / Photograph by Kae Lani Palmisano

Bánh Mì and Bottles, Grad Hospital

In the running for the prettiest cocktail in Philadelphia is Bánh Mì and Bottles’ ube espresso martini. Its vibrant shade of purple is naturally occurring thanks to the ube, which also gives the drink its mild, earthy and slightly nutty flavor. Blended with Càphê Roasters’ espresso infused with blanco tequila and a whole egg, this rich and colorful indulgence offers sophistication with a dash of whimsy. 712-14 South Street.

Kalaya, Fishtown

You won’t find this one on the cocktail menu. Kalaya‘s espresso martini is hanging out with the nam kang sai on the dessert menu. Made with Thai iced coffee, cacao, fish sauce, and chili, it’s a sweet and savory number that packs a little tingly heat. 4 West Palmer Street.

Rex at the Royal, Grad Hospital

A place as sleek and sexy as Rex at the Royal deserves a cocktail just as seductive. Made with vanilla-bean-infused Stateside Vodka, coffee liqueur, and Green Street espresso, it’s the kind of cocktail you want to sip while taking in the regal design of this historic-theater-turned-chic-restaurant. 1524 South Street.

Four Humours, Kensington

There’s the Coltrane Express, a cold-brew coffee espresso martini made with Four Humours’ bourbon and a splash of Wigle Whiskey’s coffee liqueur. And then there’s the espresso martini for the unapologetic pumpkin spice lovers, made with Holla Spirits pumpkin spice vodka and garnished with a bit of freshly grated chocolate. You don’t have to wait for fall to enjoy the latter. 1712 North Hancock Street.

Espresso martini

Espresso martinis at Bar 1010 / Photograph by Laura Swartz

Bar 1010, Northern Liberties

What may seem like a TikTok stunt — shaving Parmesan cheese on top of an espresso martini — is actually a flavor combination that works, and has a proven track record. For example, Scandinavian kaffeost (coffee cheese), the espresso-and-mascarpone combo in Italian tiramisu, or even an American bagel with cream cheese paired with coffee. All that to say, the saltiness of the Parmesan adds a whole new dimension to the coffee cocktail. 701 North 2nd Street.

Giuseppe & Sons, Center City

One sip of this espresso martini and you’ll understand why it’s listed on both the cocktail and dessert menus. Made with Kahlua, it’s a perfect accompaniment to Sunday gravy and raspberry cheesecake. 1523 Sansom Street.

Harp & Crown, Center City

Harp & Crown adds a bit of Sicilian flair to their espresso martini with a dash of Amaro Averna, bringing exciting yet balanced notes of citrus, licorice, and fragrant herbs like rosemary and sage to the bittersweet cocktail. 1525 Sansom Street.