Espresso Martinis Are Delicious—but What Happens to Your Body When You Mix Alcohol and Caffeine? A Doctor Explains
Cocktails combining alcohol and caffeine aren't a new idea by any stretch: Rum and Coke, Red Bull and vodka, Irish coffee, and many other mixed-drink combinations have been bar staples for years. But there's just something special about the espresso martini—it feels like a decadent treat. Since it's typically made with espresso, coffee liqueur, vodka, and often a hint of simple syrup, it has all the qualities of a delicious dessert, post-meal pick-me-up, and an elegant cocktail at the same time, which makes it all the more tantalizing. First concocted by London bartender Dick Bradsell in the '80s, espresso martinis have made a serious comeback recently. They're on just about every menu these days, and this velvety sip is so good it can make you feel like you're not drinking any alcohol at all (a gift and a curse).
But have you ever wondered what happens in your body when you drink caffeine and alcohol together? Is this drink (or other liquor-caffeine combos) safe to enjoy—or should we actually avoid mixing them altogether? To find out exactly how this type of cocktail affects your health, we tapped Seema Bonney, MD, functional medicine doctor and founder of the Anti-Aging and Longevity Center of Philadelphia, to break it all down.
What happens in your body when you mix alcohol with caffeine?
Enjoy your cocktail—but always practice moderation. "An occasional, indulgent espresso martini [or other combo cocktail] is not likely to cause any harm, we just want to avoid creating a habit of mixing alcohol and caffeine," says Dr. Bonney.
If you're having trouble staying awake during a night out and want to try some sort of alcohol and caffeine drink, Dr. Bonney says to consider the amount of caffeine in the beverage. "The higher the caffeine content, the greater the stimulant effect and masking of alcohol effects," she says. Dr. Bonney points out that a standard cup of coffee has about 95 to 165 milligrams of caffeine in each cup, whereas an energy drink typically contains anywhere from 40 to 350 milligrams of caffeine and typically includes added sugars, which is an additional stimulant.
Of course, how your body handles the mix of caffeine and alcohol depends on a variety of factors, including personal health history, how often you drink them, and more, so there's no one-size-fits-all answer for everyone.