How to Make an Ube Espresso Martini at Home

Give your next espresso martini a unique twist by pairing it with the nutty sweetness of ube. We’ll show you how. 

May 18, 2024
Three glasses of ube espresso martini.

Espresso martinis have become a true cocktail classic, and you might have even given our Vietnamese espresso martini a go already. But, a popular newcomer on the block is the addition of ube, a purple yam with a unique sweet flavor and color combination to match!

We’ll show you exactly how to make an ube espresso martini and why this combination works so well together, from flavor profiles to presentation. 

Essential Equipment & Ingredients for an Ube Espresso Martini

Intrigued by this unique cocktail combination? We’ll tell you exactly what you need to get started.


Ube is a popular flavor and ingredient in Asian cuisine and desserts, but it’s OK if you haven’t heard of it before. It’s a type of yam that originates from the Philippines and is characterized by its purple color. For Filipino people, ube also represents their resilience in years of colonial rule.

Ube tastes sweet and slightly nutty with a hint of vanilla, perfect for creating sweet treats. This flavor profile also makes it the perfect partner to coffee, which is why we’re using it in this ube espresso martini. 

If you can’t find an actual ube yam for this recipe, you can find it in a dried or paste form in Asian grocery stores. 


When making an espresso martini, you want a coffee that is strong and punchy so that it isn’t drowned out by the other flavors in the cocktail. This is why most kinds of Vietnamese coffee work so well. Vietnamese coffee is usually a dark robusta bean — these have a stronger potency and taste profile than arabica. The flavor notes of robusta beans usually comprise chocolate, malt, and earthy tastes, so they pair wonderfully with the sweet nuttiness of ube. 

Related: What’s the Difference Between Robusta & Arabica Coffee?


Vodka is the primary alcohol in an espresso martini, although you can always shake things up with a different liquor if you prefer. Vodka is a neutral spirit flavor-wise, which means that it adds an alcoholic punch while letting the other ingredients shine through. 

Coffee Liqueur

Coffee liqueur is added to an espresso martini to boost the coffee flavor (and the alcohol content). It also adds a sweetness to the final drink. 

Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is simple by nature, being made with just sugar and water heated together. This is used to sweeten up the cocktail, although it can be omitted according to taste. 

Condensed Milk

Some ube espresso martini recipes lean in on the richness of Vietnamese coffee and add sweetened condensed milk to up the creaminess of the decadent cocktail. 


While not present in the final glass, ice is used during the shaking process. Not only does it cool down the ingredients, but the ice cubes also help to mix and aerate them together in the shaker and create that creamy and foamy top. 

Cocktail Shaker

A cocktail shaker allows you to shake the drink, getting it chilled and mixed well. You can substitute a mason jar with a lid or a leak-proof travel coffee cup if you don’t have one. 

Espresso Machine

Espresso is ideal for this drink, but any strong coffee will do in a pinch. A phin filter or moka pot would be the best replacement, but you can also make concentrated coffee with a French press, standard coffee machine, or other methods. Just use less water and more coffee grounds and adjust accordingly.


A small baking sieve also works. The idea is to strain the ice after the drink is shaken.

Step-by-Step Ube Espresso Martini Recipe

Want to make an ube espresso martini for yourself? Here’s how. 


  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz espresso or strong brewed coffee, chilled (we find our SaiGon OG and DaLat beans make a great espresso) 
  • 1 oz ube syrup, puree, or concentrate (see the notes section for further info)
  • 1 oz coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua)
  • Simple syrup (optional and to taste)
  • 1 tbsp condensed milk (optional)
  • Ice cubes
  • Coffee beans or grated chocolate for garnish (optional)


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Fill around ¾ of the way to allow room for the liquids and for shaking. 
  2. Add the vodka, chilled espresso/coffee, ube syrup, coffee liqueur, condensed milk, and simple syrup to the shaker.
  3. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds until well-chilled and combined.
  4. Strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass for the best results.
  5. If you feel fancy, garnish with a few coffee beans or grated chocolate on top (optional).


  • For the ube syrup, you can find bottled ube concentrate/flavoring in Asian grocery stores or make your own by simmering grated ube with sugar and water until thickened.
  • If you don't have coffee liqueur, you can substitute with an additional 1/2 oz espresso and 1/2 oz simple syrup.
  • If you don’t have espresso, substitute it with a strong coffee.

Tips for Crafting the Perfect Cocktail

When it comes to creating the perfect ube espresso martini, there are a few top tips that will put your cocktail above the rest.

  • Use chilled materials and ingredients: Making sure that your espresso, cocktail shaker, and glass are chilled before preparing your ube espresso martini will help it to reach the desired temperature quicker, and stay cooler and fresher for longer. 
  • Shake well: You shouldn’t hold back when shaking your cocktail. The more vigor you put into it, the better combined the ingredients will be and the more aeration you can get for its signature foam. 
  • Pouring the cocktail: When serving, remember to pour slowly to ensure that you don’t lose any air or foam created by the shaking process. This will also allow the cocktail to settle right away when poured, so you can see the signature purple notes from the ube. 

Pairing & Serving Suggestions

While an ube espresso tastes great on its own, its flavors also lend themselves well as an accompaniment to other dishes and desserts. 

Try serving it with some of the following:

  • Creamy or chocolatey desserts: the richness of the coffee and the nuttiness of the ube bring a new dimension to classic desserts like tiramisu, chocolate souffle, cheesecake, and more. 
  • With cheese: it works well with both creamy cheese and sharp ones like cheddar.
  • Coconut: one of the most traditional pairings, either as part of a dessert or a savory dish. 

As for when to serve it, it's up to you! However, the flavor goes well with sweet dishes, so it's perfect for ending the night with your dessert course. The gorgeous purple color also makes it an eye-catching addition to a boozy brunch or an event such as a wedding or party. 

Just remember that espresso contains caffeine, and it could impact your sleep if you drink it later in the day.

Related: How Late Is Too Late for Coffee?

Common Mistakes & Troubleshooting

Did your ube espresso martini not go quite as planned? We'll go over some of the top problems you might come up against and how to solve them.

My ube espresso tastes bitter; what did I do wrong?

If your ube espresso tastes bitter, it could be for one of two reasons. The first is that you are not used to the intensity of the strong Vietnamese coffee. If this is the case, try adding extra simple syrup or sweetened condensed milk to offset it, or even a pinch of salt.

 If the type of coffee isn't the problem, then it may be in how you prepared it. Over-extracting coffee, which usually occurs if the coffee grounds are too thin, can often make the espresso taste bitter. 

I can’t taste the ube!

If your drink tastes decidedly more like a regular espresso martini than an ube espresso martini, you might want to look at your ingredient quantities and check you didn’t add too little ube or too much of the other ingredients that could be overpowering it. 

You might also want to check the potency of your ube syrup or puree. It could be that it doesn't have as much ube content as other ingredients like water and sugar. 

My drink is warm!

A warm drink means that the ube espresso martini was not sufficiently chilled . This could be due to being shaken too little or for too short of a time, or perhaps your espresso wasn’t cooled down completely before it was added. 

As a rule of thumb for getting the perfect temperature, use plenty of ice and chill everything before making it, including the glass!

Variations of the Ube Espresso Martini

Although we have provided a recipe above, nothing stops you from getting creative with your ube espresso cocktail. 

For example, why not add some condensed milk or cream to up the luxury, or swap out the vodka for another spirit like whiskey or rum? Or, for an alcohol-free mocktail, skip the vodka and coffee liqueur entirely for extra espresso and simple syrup. 

You can also put your own spin on the garnish for this drink. While an espresso martini traditionally has three coffee beans on top, there are no rules for an ube espresso cocktail. Try a macadamia nut garnish, a grating of ginger, or even make candied ube slices by cooking them in syrup before allowing them to dry out completely. 

FAQs: Ube Espresso Martini

Do you have more questions about ube espresso martinis? Let us answer them for you. 

1. What is ube, and why is it used in cocktails?

Ube is a purple yam with a sweet flavor. It adds a unique taste and color to cocktails and is also used in various Asian sweets and desserts. 

2. Can I use instant espresso for the Ube Espresso Martini?

Yes, but fresh espresso is recommended for better flavor as it allows you to control the coffee more to achieve a more rounded brew. 

3. What type of vodka is best for an Ube Espresso Martini?

Use a neutral, high-quality vodka to enhance the flavors of ube and espresso. You don't want it to be too strong so the real flavor heroes can shine, though. 

4. How do I make ube puree for the cocktail?

Boil or steam ube until soft, then blend into a smooth puree. You may also wish to add sugar to amplify the sweetness and help it store for slightly longer. Use smaller pieces of ube to speed up the process. 

5. What are some suitable garnishes for an Ube Espresso Martini?

Ground nutmeg, orange peel, or ube ice cream are great options, but to be truthful, there is no official garnish for an ube espresso martini. So, feel free to get creative!

6. Is there a non-alcoholic substitute for vodka in this cocktail?

Non-alcoholic spirits or a mix of simple syrup and cream can substitute for vodka. Alternatively, you can add extra espresso and a dash of sweetened condensed milk to add a Vietnamese twist.

7. How can I adjust the sweetness of the Ube Espresso Martini?

If your Ube Espresso Martini is too sweet, there are three things you can look at. The first is the amount of simple syrup you are using, and the second is how much coffee liqueur, as this also contains sugar. If these are not the culprits, check the sugar content of your ube flavoring or puree. 

8. Can I prepare the Ube Espresso Martini in advance?

You can prepare the base mix for this cocktail in advance by combining the ube and espresso and putting them in the fridge, but all other ingredients, like the vodka, ice, and coffee liqueur, should be added when making the drinks.

9. What is the best way to shake an Ube Espresso Martini?

Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds for proper mixing and texture. Don’t be half-hearted - put yourself into it to ensure the ice mixes, cools, and aerates your liquids to the perfect temperature and consistency. 

10. How do I know if I've achieved the right texture for the cocktail?

If you've got everything right, your ube cocktail should have a creamy texture with a clearly defined foamy top.