Carajillo Coffee Recipe

A popular Spanish after drink, the Carajillo is a sweet and aromatic coffee cocktail to finish off your meal.

best carajillo coffee cocktail

We enjoy a good coffee and cocktail so when you combine the two, it’s a match made in heaven. And the Spanish Carajillo is exactly that! It’s a spiked coffee that originated in southeast Spain but is most popular in Mexico, particularly Mexico City as we discovered during our travels there.

Ways to Prepare Carajillo Coffee

There are two ways to prepare this Spanish coffee cocktail. One simply combines a shot of strong coffee with a shot of liquor.

The second method, known as the “Carajillo Quemado” or Burnt Carajillo recipe first infuses liquor with aromatic ingredients, before mixing in the espresso coffee. 

We personally prefer the Burnt Carajillo method. Though it’s a few extra steps, it’s more delicious and gives you the ultimate Carajillo experience.

ingredients to use for the carajillo coffee

What Ingredients Go Into Carajillo Recipe?

Strong espresso coffee — If possible, use Italian coffee for a nice foam layer top. 

Liquor of your choice — Opt for dark liquors like cognac (the popular option in Spain), whiskey, or rum. In Mexico, Licor 43 (a sweet Spanish liqueur with orange and vanilla notes) is preferred. We chose Captain Morgan Rum for its spicy, vanilla and oak notes. It’s typically the go-to brand for a classic rum cocktail.

Aromatics — Lemon peel, cinnamon stick, and coffee beans

Brown sugar

top view of carajillo cocktail with garnish

How to Make a Carajillo Coffee

1 — Prep and set aside your espresso coffee.

2 — Infuse your liquor with the aromatic ingredients. 

How to infuse liquor:

1 — In a saucepan on low, heat the rum with the aromatics (lemon peel, cinnamon stick, and coffee beans) for about 1 minute.

In order to get flame and “burn” the liquor, the mixture needs to be hot. But be careful since it does not have to boil!

heating the rum with the aromatics on a saucepan for the carajillo

2 — In your cocktail glass, add 1 teaspoon brown sugar and pour in the heated liquor.

3 — With a long spoon, quickly spoon some of the liquid out, and set it on fire with the lighter. Then, quickly pour back the liquid into the glass.

Repeat for a few times until most of the liquid is “burning”. The flames will be very subtle and last just for a few seconds.

burning alcohol for the carajillo recipe

4 —  Allow the flame to extinguish naturally, or blow out the flame.

This process transfers all the essential oils and aromas of the aromatic ingredients to the rum. It also burns off some (but not all) of the alcohol content so that the Carajillo recipe will not be too strong. 

infusing the rum with aromatics - carajillo cocktail

3 — Once the infusing-burning step is complete, slowly pour the coffee on top of the rum mixture.

Alcohol and coffee have different densities so different layers form naturally. To avoid this separation, pour the coffee slowly over a reversed spoon. 

how to make carajillo - pour the coffee on top of the Rum

4 — Garnish with the lemon peel and a couple of coffee beans.

carajillo garnish - lemon and coffee beans

Carajillo Recipe Notes and Tips

— Carajillo is best enjoyed hot as an after-meal drink. To serve cold, add ice cubes.

— If the infusing process sounds too adventurous or if you want to make multiple coffee drinks at once and want to save time, simply heat your liquor, lemon peel, cinnamon stick, and coffee beans longer in the saucepan until all the flavors are infused.

— Alcohol and coffee have different densities so naturally form different layers. However, you can help this by pouring the coffee slowly over a reversed spoon. 

More Easy Coffee Drink Recipes to Try

a glass of carajillo coffee cocktail


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