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Where to Get the Best Espresso Martinis in San Diego

8 must-try spots across the county to get the (still) very popular coffee-based cocktail
Espresso Martini

Espresso Martini

As a San Diego local and lover of cocktails and caffeine, I’m forever on the hunt for the perfect espresso martini. I’m not just talking about your average mix of espresso, coffee liqueur, and vodka—I like a drink that kicks it up a notch in the ingredient or presentation department while still offering a caffeine- and alcohol-induced buzz.So, I grabbed a seat at several local bars and restaurants to see which ones were worth the hype for your next night (or day, no judgement) out on the town. Here are eight of my favorite places to grab an espresso martini in San Diego.

Born and Raised Espresso Martini, San Diego

Born and Raised Espresso Martini, San Diego

Courtesy of Yelp

Born & Raised

Little Italy

You know a bar’s doing something right when half the patrons around you are sipping espresso martinis. The mixologist at Born & Raised pours the bittersweet concoction into a chilled glass (always a nice touch) and adds a vanilla whipped-cream float to the top of the cocktail. Each sip tastes like a scoop of java chip ice cream. Depending on your mood, one of these martinis can kick off a night out in Little Italy or serve as a nightcap after a steak dinner downtown. It’s like an affogato with an edge.

Paradisaea Espresso Martini

Paradisaea Espresso Martini

Courtesy of Yelp


La Jolla

Paradisaea may be the new kid on the block in La Jolla, but it’s got the espresso martini nailed down. With their adjoining breakfast spot serving one of my favorite lattes in the neighborhood, it’s no surprise they make a great caffeinated cocktail. Paradisaea uses a cacao-infused vodka and garnishes the drink with spiced cacao sea-salt dust. I also detect hints of cinnamon.

Flamingo Deck

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach isn’t exactly known for its craft cocktail bars, but Flamingo Deck measures up to its classy counterparts in North Park and Normal Heights. You might catch friend groups ordering tiramisu espresso martinis by the dozen here. I must warn you, though, that this one feels more like a milkshake than a mixed drink. I can only have one (or two, if I’m feeling wild) before the sugar rush hits.

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Swan Bar

North Park

Swan Bar likes to put a spin on classic cocktails, and in the case of our beloved espresso martini, that means adding an amaretto cream alongside vodka, coffee, and Mr. Black coffee liqueur. The cream brings the drink to just the right level of sweetness, making Swan’s martini light enough to swig before dinner—which is perfect, considering that it’s only $5 at the bar’s 4–5 p.m. happy hour.

The Henry


My go-to order at The Henry on Coronado Island is a serving of pretzels and provolone fondue with Hank’s espresso martini. I instantly feel cooler sitting at the bar with a martini in hand, and it’s not just because the drink contains cold brew. The restaurant serves their signature cocktail with a solid foam-to-brew ratio and the correct amount of sweetness.

Shake & Muddle

Chula Vista

As I get older, I usually prefer a day drink or happy hour sip versus the late-night alternative. Chula Vista’s Shake & Muddle gets it and lists their Bang Bang Martini on the brunch cocktail list. Nothing like a shot each of vodka and coffee to start the day or propel you through a hangover. Their version of the classic cocktail features cold brew and a chocolate liqueur. It’s my ideal sweet treat when I’m chowing on their savory croissant egg sandwich or carne asada breakfast burrito.

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Oak & Elixir


Carlsbad’s Oak & Elixir adult-ifies the campfire s’mores experience you had as a child with their Date Night Espresso Martini. The drink features a hazelnut liqueur—which adds a fun Nutella note—and toasted marshmallow on top. The presentation on this one is 10 out of 10, and the taste is not far behind.

Switchboard Espresso Martini - Yelp

Switchboard Espresso Martini – Yelp

Courtesy of Yelp

The Switchboard


The espresso martini at The Switchboard in Oceanside is as local as it gets. Their take combines North County Roastery’s espresso and Locals Only Vodka, which is distilled down the street. It’s a secret menu item, too, so request it from the bartender to join all the hometowners happily caffeinating at the bar.

By Molly Delmore

Molly Delmore is a freelance writer and content creator from San Diego. When she’s not checking out San Diego’s newest restaurants, bars, and shops, she’s planning her next trip to the mountains to snowboard or a new country to explore. Her work has been featured in San Diego Magazine, Mashed, and Tasting Table.

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