The Mexican Carajillo Cocktail, a delightful blend of fresh brewed espresso and liquor 43, has become a beloved favorite among coffee enthusiasts and cocktail connoisseurs alike. Here’s how to make this perfectly perky drink at home.
I love drinking coffee and creating delicious recipes with coffee. Here on the blog, there are many coffee-based recipes like the decadent Chocolate Espresso Martini (which I love to serve as an after dinner drink) and the much loved seasonal café classic Gingerbread Latté you can make at home.
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email below and get this post sent straight to your inbox. Plus, I’ll send you my weekly newsletter featuring the newest and best Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen recipes every week!
Mexican Carajillo Cocktail
This Carajillo Cocktail is a rich bold cocktail made from Licor 43 and espresso coffee. The coffee provides a bitter, aromatic element while the spirit contributes a sweetness and wonderful depth. If you enjoy coffee-based cocktails, a Carajillo is a great choice as a digestif or pick-me-up.
Friends, we just came back from our holiday in Mexico, and I brought back more than one souvenir. A beautiful dress for my niece, art for my sister, hot sauce for my son, and a burning desire to share my latest cocktail obsession with you!
To say I’m obsessed with the Carajillo Cocktail is an understatement. It’s dark, sweet, and the perfect post dinner pick me up for when you still have shit to do (pardon my French). In other words, this is the cocktail recipe you need during the holiday season.
But there’s more. This is one of the easiest cocktail recipes you’ll ever make. It contains only two ingredients, or three if you count the ice cubes. You might think that gorgeous layer of creamy foam on top looks complicated. However, it really couldn’t be any simpler.
Move over Espresso Martini, there’s a new coffee cocktail in town!
A Brief but Courageous History
The earliest beginnings of this caffeinated creation most likely lie in the Spanish colonial days of Cuba. There, soldiers combined coffee with rum for liquid courage, or coraje.
From there it spread to other countries like Columbia and Venezuela where it is served with brandy. In Mexico it can be made with Mezcal, Tia Maria, Kahlua, or most commonly, licor 43.
The Carajillo Cocktail is now popular throughout Latin America where it exists as a cold coffee drink to which a liquor is added. However, Spanish versions are often more elaborate and served hot.
There, the liquor component is warmed directly in the glass with additional spices (cinnamon) and fruit (lemon peel). Additionally, the alcohol mixture may be set directly on fire and extinguished when some alcohol burns off and deeper flavours develop.
Mexican Carajillo Cocktail Ingredients
I’m keeping it simple with this one. One cocktail, two ingredients… just like the cocktails you will find in Mexico. You will need a cocktail shaker, a Hawthorne strainer, and a rocks glass (affiliate links) for this recipe.
- Licor 43
- Coffee Beans
There are restaurants and cocktail bars that won’t make a Carajillo unless they have an espresso machine and I concur. Since there are only two ingredients in this recipe, it is imperative that only freshly brewed espresso, not strong coffee is used.
Similarly, I have had this cocktail from a place that used espresso coffee powder and I could taste it immediately. This classy cocktail deserves real espresso, or nothing.
Some people like to add simple syrup to this cocktail but trust me, the licor 43 is sweet enough to create a perfectly balanced cocktail.
What is Licor 43?
Licor 43 is a popular Spanish liqueur made with a top-secret blend of 43 herbs and spices – hence the name! The recipe has been closely guarded by the Zamora family ever since they invented it in 1946 but the flavour is unique with notes of vanilla, cinnamon and orange peel.
You may be thinking… why do I need to add yet another bottle to my liquor cabinet? If you are like me, it’s already bursting with specialty bottles required for specific cocktails you made years ago. Is Licor 43 worth the cabinet space?
I’m going to answer that last question with a resounding YES. Here’s why: I guarantee that if you love espresso martinis and coffee in general, you will make this cocktail over and over again. It’s simple, quick, and carries that perfect kick to keep you going through the night.
This fabulous liquor isn’t just a ‘one hit wonder’. Shake it with cold whole milk to make a Mexican ‘Sandrillo’ or ‘Blanco 43’. Replace the Galliano in a Harvey Wallbanger with licor 43 to make a Harvey Wallbanger 43 or add it to a Cuba Libre or Screwdriver.
Finally, for a fun little shot, pour a measure of licor 43 in a pint glass shaped shot glass and top with a layer of cream. It looks just like a mini poured pint complete with foam!
Stirred vs. Shaken Carajillo Cocktail
There are multiple ways to make a Carajillo Cocktail. You can simply measure the licor 43 over ice, then slowly pour the hot espresso over the back of spoon to create a layered Carajillo. However, my favourite method is shaken, not stirred, because I love that glorious layer of foam on top.
The foamy top is one of the most appealing things about a Carajillo and it enhances the velvety smooth texture. The best way to get a very foamy cocktail is to use a freshly made espresso such as the ones you make in a bean to cup coffee machine.
If you don’t have your own coffee machine at home, go to your local coffee place and order a couple of espressos to use in this cocktail. The crema on top of a great espresso is responsible for making the magic happen!
How to Make a Carajillo Cocktail
To make a shaken Carajillo Cocktail, begin by adding ice to a rocks glass and allowing it to chill while you make the cocktail. Next, fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour over 2 oz Licor 43 and 2 oz fresh espresso.
Place the lid on the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until the container becomes cold and frosty. The more you shake, the better the foam! Replace the ice in the rocks glass then pour the cocktail over the ice. To make a whole round of drinks, simply increase the measure fresh espresso and licor 43 by the same 1:1 ratio.
Allow the foam to settle to the top before garnishing with coffee beans or a broken stick of cinnamon. Serve immediately.
Hi! I’m Bernice Hill and I am the sole recipe developer, photographer, and writer at Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen. It is my pleasure to share easy to follow recipes that are delicious, nutritious, and approachable for the whole family.
If you make this Carajillo Cocktail recipe, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section or in a recipe rating. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe, please share your photos and tag me on Instagram. I hope you like this recipe!
- 2 oz Licor 43
- 2 oz freshly brewed Espresso
- coffee beans, for garnish
- Add ice to a rocks glass and allow it to chill while you make the cocktail.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour over the Licor 43 and espresso.
- Place the lid on the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until the container becomes cold and frosty. The more you shake the better the foam!
- Replace the ice in the rocks glass then pour the cocktail over the ice.
- Allow the foam to settle to the top before garnishing with coffee beans.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 244Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 881mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 10gSugar: 20gProtein: 12g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.