Midnight Express Cocktail Recipe

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Midnight Express Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Midnight Express cocktail is believed to have originated in the 1920s during the Prohibition era. It was a popular choice among the elite and underground speakeasy patrons, who enjoyed the rich and complex flavors of this unique cocktail. The name 'Midnight Express' is said to be inspired by the late-night train journeys that many of these patrons would take to reach their secret drinking destinations.

How Midnight Express Tastes?

The Midnight Express cocktail is a harmonious blend of sweet, sour, and slightly bitter flavors. The combination of liqueurs and citrus juices creates a rich, velvety texture, while the hint of coffee adds depth and complexity. The overall taste is smooth, refreshing, and invigorating.

Interesting facts about Midnight Express

  • The Midnight Express is often considered a 'nightcap' cocktail, perfect for winding down after a long evening.
  • The use of coffee liqueur in this cocktail is a nod to the late-night theme, as coffee was often consumed to help stay awake during Prohibition-era parties.
  • The Midnight Express is sometimes referred to as a 'cousin' of the more well-known White Russian cocktail, due to their similar ingredient profiles.


A few good options for Midnight Express are:

  • Grey Goose
  • Belvedere
  • Khor
  • Smirnoff

Learn everything on which Vodka to choose


It's the foundation - the nautical captain sailing the flavor ship. The 1.5 oz offer a necessary kick without capsizing the vessel into boozy waters. Less vodka = a milder ride, more = a mightier wave that could drown out the subtler passengers (like our dear lime juice).

Emma Rose

Coffee Liqueur

This liqueur is the night in Midnight Express. Its 0.5 oz brings just enough darkness to intrigue but not overshadow. Omit it and you lose the cocktail's soul. Try a different coffee liqueur for a new shade of night.

Alex Green


Ah, the Italian lover whispering sweet nothings. At a modest 0.5 oz, it brings warmth and nuttiness. Without it, you miss out on depth. Swap for Frangelico and the nutty whispers turn hazelnut.

Mary Mitkina

Orange Juice

1 oz of OJ is the ray of dawn, breaking through the dark. Just enough citrus brightness to balance the flavors; too much, and it's a sunrise service. No OJ, and it's midnight forever. Freshly squeezed makes all the difference.

Emma Rose

Lime Juice

Half an ounce is a spritz of zestiness in a world of smooth talkers. It sharpens the edges like a splash of cold water, and without it, the drink loses its wit. Substitute with lemon for a different kind of cheeky bite.

Alex Green


The unsung hero. It chills, it dilutes, it melds. A cocktail without ice is like a party without music – possible, but why would you? Crushed ice for a faster chill, cubes for a slow dance.

Mary Mitkina

Orange Wheel and Maraschino Cherry

The garnish twins: one brings zesty beauty, and the other a hint of sweetness. They're the final touch - your drink's jewelry. Skip them, and the Midnight Express is underdressed.

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make Midnight Express Drink

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add the vodka, coffee liqueur, amaretto, orange juice, and lime juice to the shaker.
  3. Shake well until chilled and combined.
  4. Strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
  5. Garnish with an orange wheel and a maraschino cherry.

Pro Tips

  • Shake the cocktail shaker vigorously to ensure all ingredients are well mixed.
  • Use freshly squeezed orange and lime juice for the best flavor.
  • Chill your glass before pouring the cocktail to keep it cool for longer.

Perfect Pairings


  • Dark Chocolate: The bitterness of dark chocolate harmonizes with the coffee liqueur.
  • Cheesecake: Creamy desserts like cheesecake blend well with the rich flavors of this drink.
  • Smoked Almonds: The smokiness complements the nuttiness of the amaretto.

Other Drinks

  • Espresso: Enhances the coffee notes in the cocktail.
  • Sparkling Water: A palate cleanser between sips.

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What you could change in Midnight Express

  • Vodka: Can be replaced with white rum or gin.
  • Coffee Liqueur: Can be replaced with chocolate liqueur for a sweeter taste.
  • Amaretto: Can be replaced with hazelnut liqueur.
  • Orange Juice: Can be replaced with grapefruit juice for a more tart flavor.

Explore all drinks starting with M here

And of course - twists🍹

Espresso Midnight Express

  • Add a shot of espresso.
  • Increase coffee liqueur to 1 oz. A jolt of energy mixed with the dusk, turning your midnight into a caffeinated twilight. Perfect for the night owls.

Spiced Orange Midnight

  • Substitute orange juice with spiced orange syrup.
  • A pinch of cinnamon. An aromatic twist that tantalizes with seasonal spices, making each sip a festive celebration of the twilight hour.

Midnight Express Martini

  • Serve in a chilled martini glass without ice.
  • Omit the orange wheel, add an espresso bean garnish. Elegance on track, where the midnight express glides smoothly into the station called 'sophistication'.

In case you forgot basics how to make Midnight Express

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Midnight Express

Which vodka brands are best for making a Midnight Express cocktail?

While the choice of vodka is subjective and depends on individual taste, brands like Grey Goose, Belvedere, and Absolut are often recommended for cocktails due to their smoothness and clean taste.

Can I serve the Midnight Express in a different glass?

Traditionally, the Midnight Express is served in a rocks glass. However, you can experiment with other types of glasses depending on availability or personal preference.

Is it possible to make a non-alcoholic version of the Midnight Express?

Yes, you can make a 'mocktail' version of the Midnight Express. Substitute the alcoholic ingredients with non-alcoholic alternatives - for example, use non-alcoholic coffee and almond-flavored syrups instead of coffee liqueur and Amaretto.

Is it hard to make a Midnight Express cocktail?

The Midnight Express cocktail involves relatively simple preparation steps. Making this cocktail at home can be quite easy, even for beginners.

Is there a specific time or occasion that the Midnight Express cocktail is best used for?

While the Midnight Express is often considered a 'nightcap' cocktail, perfect for winding down after a long evening, it can be served at any time and for any occasion.

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