Espresso Martini Granita Recipe

Espresso Martini Granita

The Spruce/ Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Freeze: 12 hrs
Total: 12 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 1 quart
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
94 Calories
0g Fat
16g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 94
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 16g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 33mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

An icon among modern cocktails, it's hard to resist an espresso martini. When you want to skip the shaker, make espresso martini granita instead. Made with strong coffee, vodka, and coffee liqueur, the spiked frozen dessert recipe has everything there is to love about the drink.

A granita is like a flaky sorbet, and the icy Italian treat is incredibly easy to make. While it's typically made with fruit, espresso-flavored granita is equally delicious. The recipe begins with a simple syrup that uses coffee instead of water. Once that cools, you'll spike it with vanilla vodka and coffee liqueur, then place it in the freezer and scrape it hourly with a fork until it has the texture of icy snow.

The trick to spiked granita is to keep the liquor in check. High-proof alcohol doesn't freeze at regular strength, so balancing the spirits and nonalcoholic ingredients is essential if you want granita's signature ice crystals to form. A good rule is to use 1/2 cup or less of liquor for every two cups of other liquids. The recipe works just as well without the alcohol if you want to make a nonalcoholic dessert.

Espresso martini granita looks fabulous when served in cocktail glasses. Freeze the glasses for at least 30 minutes to ensure it stays icy. You can garnish it with a few coffee beans or cacao nibs, and it's fabulous with creamy toppings.

“On a steamy summer evening after our meal outside, the Espresso Martini Granita was a superb, cooling finish. The icy martini is rich in coffee and laced with a hint of vanilla. Perfection in a glass. I brewed a rich decaf coffee to accommodate my decaf guests.” —Mary Jo Romano 

Espresso Martini Granita Recipe/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 cups strongly brewed coffee, regular or decaf

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur

  • 1/4 cup vanilla or regular vodka

  • Coffee beans, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Espresso Martini Granita

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the coffee to a boil. Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool.

    Coffee in a saucepan.

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  3. Stir the coffee liqueur and vanilla vodka into the coffee syrup.

    Coffee in a saucepan.

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  4. Pour the liquid into an 8- to 9-inch square baking pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 1 hour.

    Coffee syrup in a pan.

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  5. Use a fork to mix the solid and liquid parts of the granita and return it to the freezer.

    Frozen coffee syrup in a pan.

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  6. After 1 hour, rake the granita with the fork. Repeat this process until it's entirely frozen and flaky. Depending on your freezer, it may take several hours or up to overnight.

    Frozen coffee granita in a pan.

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  7. Just before serving, fork the granita one last time. Scoop into frozen cocktail glasses, garnish with a few coffee beans, and serve it with small spoons.

    Espresso Martini Granita in glasses.

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck


  • Brew the most robust coffee possible for this granita. Espresso's great, but the recipe works just as well with coffee brewed in a stovetop percolator, pour-over brewer, or French press. The coffee syrup can be made in advance.
  • Square baking pans are ideal for granita because they keep the depth at around 1/2 inch, ensuring it freezes evenly and is easy to fork. It freezes more quickly in metal, though a glass dish will work, too.
  • While the syrup cools, set up a dedicated space in the freezer for the granita. You'll need access to it regularly and want to give it a clean, flat spot where it won't spill while still liquid. Also, avoid placing it near smelly foods because the ice will pick up strong odors, and no one likes the taste of fishy granita.

Recipe Variations

  • Use decaf espresso or coffee if you prefer to avoid caffeine later in the evening.
  • Cold brew coffee is an excellent option for this granita. When using a cold brew concentrate, dilute it with water when making the syrup.
  • Switch to plain vodka and add one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Sweet flavored vodkas like whipped cream can replace the vanilla vodka, as can vanilla-flavored rum.
  • Give the espresso martini granita a mocha twist by switching the vanilla vodka out for chocolate liqueur or vodka.
  • Skip the liquor entirely for a nonalcoholic version.
  • Cream adds a great contrast that mimics espresso's crema. Pour a little cream, milk, or vanilla-flavored almond milk into the glass before adding the granita. You can also use vanilla ice cream or top it with sweet whipped cream.

How to Store

The espresso martini granita can be made a few days in advance, and will keep well for a week. Scrape any leftovers into an airtight freezer container, and fluff it with a fork before serving.

How Strong Is Espresso Martini Granita?

Most vanilla vodka is 35 percent ABV (70 proof), and coffee liqueurs are around 20 percent ABV (40 proof), so the espresso martini granita doesn't use the strongest liquors. It's not only an ideal combination for freezing but also keeps the dessert light. It should weigh in around 6 percent ABV (12 proof), which is similar to beer.

Is Italian ice the same as granita?

In the U.S., Italian ice is commonly used to describe an adaptation of Italy's famous granitas. The icy dessert was likely introduced to the U.S. by Italian immigrants. Beyond adopting the new name, the American version of Italian ice also tends to be smoother than the original granitas.