Galliano Espresso Martini Competition

Created by my friend Dick Bradsell in the 1980s, the Espresso Martini has become one of the world's most popular cocktails. In partnership with Galliano Espresso, we challenged U.S. bartenders to create a riff on Dick's contemporary classic. Now we have a winner!

1st Stage (closed 16-July-23)

American bartenders registered their interest to take part by answering, 'What does the Espresso Martini mean to you?' Their answers helped decide the 100 bartenders invited to progress to the next stage.

2nd stage (closed 31-August-23)

Bartenders selected from stage one were invited to create a riff on Dick's original Espresso Martini and submit their recipe to include at least 1/2oz (15ml) Galliano Espresso Liqueur and a photo to Difford's Guide.

Entries & judging

It's the simplicity of the Espresso Martini that's part of its broad appeal and has led to it being served in bars around the world, while also lending itself to numerous variations. Originally vodka-based, riffs have tended to use vodka and be shaken with the foamy head generated by shaking espresso coffee being part of this cocktail's DNA. Of the 100 bartenders invited, 91 submitted their Espresso Martini recipe and vodka proved to be in the minority with tequila and mezcal being standout preferred ingredients.

Surprisingly, many of the entries were stirred rather than shaken with freshly brewed, cold brew, or even coffee concentrates omitted as bartenders took a more purist view on what a "Martini" should be.

From a flavour perspective, spice was affirmed as being on trend with chili liqueur, fresh chili, cinnamon and nutmeg all featuring strongly.

The Galliano team and I reviewed the recipes submitted and I made and tried the cocktails that stood out for me. Each cocktail was scored out of 100 points: 60 points for the recipe, 20 points for story about the recipe submitted, 10 points for the cocktail's name, and 10 points for sharing via @gallianococktails on Instagram.

The Winner

Nicole Salicetti from New York City with 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' wins a three night stay in London during London Cocktail Week!
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Wake Me Before You Go Go
1.5 oz. (45ml) Blanco tequila
1 oz. (30ml) Espresso coffee
0.5 oz. (15ml) Galliano Espresso
0.5 oz. (15ml) Oloroso sherry
0.25 oz. (7.5ml) Citrus oleo
3 dashes Mole bitters
3 dashes Orange bitters
5 drops 80:20 saline solution


The quality of entries was so high that the Galliano team decided to also award two runners-up prizes of $250 - which go to Jonathan Stanyard from Seattle for his cocktail 'Cafe de Jerez' and Mike Rosenthal from Nashville for his cocktail 'Free to Rome'.
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Café de Jerez
1 oz (30ml) Galliano Espresso Liqueur
1.5 oz (45ml) Spanish Brandy – preferred with Italian
1.25 oz (37.5ml) Fresh espresso coffee
0.50 oz (15ml) Salted vanilla syrup
1/8 oz (3.75ml) Olive oil
1/8 oz (3.75ml) Balsamic vinegar

ency 59 image
Free to Rome
1 oz (30ml) Galliano Espresso
1 oz (30ml) Chilled fresh espresso
1 oz (30ml) Bourbon (80 proof)
0.5 oz (15ml) Amaretto
0.25 tsp (1.2 ml) Olive oil
0.1 oz lemon oil (spritz glass before straining)

The prize

  • A three-night trip to London during London Cocktail Week.
  • A bar tour around London with Simon Difford and the Global Galliano Ambassador, Marcin Cebula, including venues where Dick Bradsell used to work.
  • Free time to enjoy the city and its bar scene during London Cocktail Week.
  • London Cocktail Week wristband.
  • Winning cocktail featured on Difford's Guide, our social channels and newsletters
Galliano Espresso Martini Competition image 1
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