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Love coffee? Try the Espresso Margarita, a rich, bittersweet drink featuring tequila, Kahlua, orange liqueur and espresso.

Espresso margarita

Coffee lovers, here’s your ideal cocktail: the Espresso Margarita! It’s not often that coffee meets tequila but when it does: you’re in for a treat. This spin on the Espresso Martini combines tequila with Kahlua, orange liqueur and espresso for a rich, bittersweet flavor. Shaking it up makes a delightfully frothy topping. It’s unusual, but it works.

Ingredients in an Espresso (not Expresso) Margarita

The margarita is a classic cocktail invented in Mexico in the 1930’s, and it remains one of the most popular cocktails of all time. A Classic Margarita has just 3 ingredients: tequila, triple sec and lime juice. The Espresso (not Expresso!) Margarita is a spin that’s similar in concept to an Espresso Martini, adding Kahlua and espresso or strong coffee to the mix. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Tequila blanco: unaged tequila makes a straightforward flavor here; substitute reposado for notes of vanilla and oak
  • Kahlua: use Kahlua or another coffee liqueur like Tia Maria
  • Triple Sec or Cointreau: either work! Cointreau has a more sophisticated finish
  • Espresso or strong coffee: more on that below

What you don’t need? The lime juice in a classic Margarita just doesn’t work with the coffee. (Trust us!)

French press espresso

For the coffee

There are lots of options for the coffee in an Espresso Margarita: you don’t even need actual espresso! Here are a few methods:

Espresso Margarita

More about Kahlua

The backbone of this Espresso Margarita? Kahlua. This coffee liqueur brings the bitterness of coffee with riche notes of vanilla and caramel on the finish. Here’s more about it:

  • Kahlua is a coffee liqueur that’s made in Mexico. It’s made with rum, sugar and coffee. It does have some caffeine, but only about 25% as much as the same volume of coffee.
  • Is Kahlua dairy free? Yes! The standard version of Kahlua has only rum, sugar and coffee: no cream. Even though it’s got a frothy top, this drink is vegan and plant-based.
  • How much does Kahlua cost? It costs about $20 per bottle.
  • What are some substitutes for Kahlua? You can also use other types of coffee liqueur, like Tia Maria or Sheridan’s.
  • What other cocktails use Kahlua? Use it to make Kahlua drinks like the White RussianBlack Russian or Mudslide.

Serving an Espresso Margarita

Unlike most margaritas, the Espresso Margarita is not made better with a salt rim. (Gasp!) Here are some serving ideas:

  • Skip a rim, or use sugar or ground coffee. Try a sugar rim like this Apple Cider Margarita or a crunchy coffee rim like this Coffee Martini.
  • If using a lowball glass, use clear ice. This is crystal clear ice made in large blocks or chunks (contrast it with cloudy ice from an ice maker). It’s what bars use to make drinks look fancy. Use this Clear Ice Tutorial to make it at home with a small cooler or a clear ice tray.
  • Or, serve in a martini glass. Then you can serve it straight up instead of on the rocks.

And that’s it! Let us know what you think of this Espresso Margarita in the comments below.

More coffee cocktails

There are so many delicious coffee cocktails to choose from! After this drink, try one of the following:

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Espresso margarita

Espresso Margarita


Love coffee? Try the Espresso Margarita, a rich, bittersweet drink featuring tequila, Kahlua, orange liqueur and espresso.




  1. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with 4 ice cubes and shake until cold. Strain into a martini glass or lowball glass with clear ice and serve.


*1 ounce = 2 tablespoons

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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  1. yummy cocktail, a great version of a margarita that, with Cointreau and espresso, seems perfect for December holidays, thank you!