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The Definitive Guide to Espresso Martinis in San Diego, CA

Olivia Back

The espresso martini has become the “it” drink of the 2020s. Restaurants and bars throughout the city are coming up with their unique spin on the drink in hopes of standing out among the competition. But who has the best espresso martini in San Diego? 

 

Our mission is to answer that for you. We’re on the hunt for smooth, tasty espresso martinis that we’ll be thinking about long after we leave the bar. This is part one in our series, so if we missed your favorite spot, let us know! 

 

Best of the Best

RustiCucinaespresso martini

Out of all the espresso martinis we’ve tried so far, this one takes the top spot. RustiCucina’s signature drink is everything you want in an espresso martini: It’s smooth, has the perfect amount of foam, has a tasty garnish of cocoa powder, and a light drizzle of chocolate syrup. This was the favorite among our team because it was light on dairy, and the garnishes elevated it to a new level. 

Animae 

Adding banana flavoring to an espresso martini is a big risk, but it pays off for Animae. While it won’t be for everyone, these banana liqueurs add a unique, delicious flavor that we couldn’t get enough of. This is a perfect drink for those who want something a little out of the box. 

Lavo 

There’s no better way to end your night than with a decadent espresso martini from Lavo. Instead of light foam, it’s topped with a thick, vanilla crema and tiramisu dust. It tastes more like a dessert than a drink, in the best way. 

Cafe21Photo of Cafe21 Espresso Martini

Who says espresso martinis are just an after-dinner drink? Local brunch spot Cafe21 offers espresso martinis bright and early. If you’re on the hunt for a classic espresso martini, this will be your spot. They use a hazelnut liquor that doesn’t overpower the drink but instead complements it. 

 

Mid-Tier

Vin de Syrah 

Head down into this Alice in Wonderland speakeasy for an espresso martini with a fun twist. Vin de Syrah uses rum instead of vodka and pairs it with fresh cold brew and walnut bitters. It’s a definite crowd pleaser! 

Moe’s 

Moe’s is for people who want minimal frills. Closer to a shot of espresso than a dessert drink, it can be too bland for some due to the lack of foam and sweetness. This was favored among our team members who prefer black coffee.

 

Needs a Little Help

Paradisaea Photo of Moe's Espresso Martini

Paradisaea is one of our favorite San Diego restaurants, but sadly their espresso martini didn’t work for us. This was the only one we tried where the vodka significantly overpowered the espresso. If strong drinks are your vibe, you might prefer this one!

Coco Maya

Intrigued by the idea of an espresso martini tree, we had high hopes for the Coco Maya martini. Although beautiful in appearance, the martinis were lacking. "The presentation gets a 9/10, but the whipped cream didn’t blend with the rest of the drink and the champagne flute made it difficult to drink," local Good Life team member, Dave, noted. 

 

Did we miss your favorite spot? Leave us a comment below, and we’ll try it out next time!

 

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