How to Make a Carajillo

Spanish culture is loaded with drama. In fact, it seems like everything the Spanish do has some level of extremeness to it.

I mean, when they explore, they take over continents; when they play soccer, they win World Cups, and when they have a festival, they try not to get trampled by bulls…

So it should come as no surprise that “Spanish Coffee”, or carajillo, is as intense as everything else that this dramatically beautiful culture delivers.

A smooth and powerful combination of caffeine and alcohol, this carajillo recipe is sure to leave you coming back for more.

Carajillo

A smooth and powerful combination of caffeine and alcohol, this carajillo recipe is sure to leave you coming back for more.

Course Drinks
Cuisine spanish
Keyword carajillo
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 625 kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 oz coffee
  • 3/4 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz rum and coffee liqueur
  • 3/4 oz Jamaican rum
  • 1/4 oz brown sugar syrup
  • 4 oz heavy cream
  • fine sugar optional
  • orange slice optional

Instructions

  1. Optional: Wet the rim of a glass with the orange slice. Then, pour sugar onto the plate and dip the glass upside down into the sugar.

  2. Add ½ oz of Grand Marnier and heavy cream to a shaker along with the coil of a Hawthorne strainer and dry shake (no ice) for at least 10 seconds.

  3. Brew the coffee

  4. Add the shaker contents to the coffee along with the Jamaican rum, ¼ oz Grand Marnier, coffee liqueur, and brown sugar syrup. Stir.

  5. Use the back side of the spoon to carefully float some cream onto the top of the drink.

How to Make a Carajillo

Just a quick clarification before we begin the tutorial.

This is similar to, but not the same as, our recipe for flaming Spanish coffee. If you’re looking for a dazzling display to wow your guests with, head on over to that recipe here.

On the other hand, if you’re more interested in taste, continue on with this tutorial and you’ll get a compelling drink that is downright delicious.

This entire recipe yields one serving, so if you’re making several of these, multiply the recipe accordingly.

What You'll Need

Extra Notes:

  • While there are many variations on brown sugar syrups, the general idea is a 1:1 ratio of water and brown sugar, boiled and stirred until completely dissolved, and then refrigerated.
  • You can also use lemon juice to rim your glass if no fresh fruit is available.
  • The original version of this recipe used House Spirits Coffee Liqueur, which has since become unavailable. However, you should be able to use any rum and coffee based liqueur, such as Kahlua.
  • While this recipe leaves it wide open for you to choose your coffee, you’ll still want to choose a coffee that you enjoy. This article is a useful tool to help you understand all that goes into the coffee bean growing, harvesting, washing, and roasting processes so that you can choose your coffee beans with confidence.

Method

  1. (Optional) Begin by rimming the glass with sugar. Simply cut an orange slice and use it to wet the rim of the glass. Then, pour sugar onto the plate and dip the glass upside down into the sugar. Give it a few minutes to dry.
  2. Add the ½ oz of Grand Marnier and heavy cream to your shaker along with the coil of a Hawthorne strainer and dry shake (no ice) for at least ten seconds. The idea here is to aerate the liquid without actually making whipped cream. Once the cream is noticeably thickened but remains pourable, it’s ready.
  3. Brew your coffee.
  4. Add the shaker contents to your coffee along with the Jamaican rum, ¼ oz remaining Grand Marnier, coffee liqueur, and brown sugar syrup.
  5. Stir well.
  6. As a final flourish, use the back side of the spoon to carefully float some cream onto the top of the drink.
  7. Enjoy!

What Does Carajillo Mean?

While the answer is not certain, some think the term carajillo comes from the Spanish word coraje or “courage”, while others think it may actually stem from the phrase, que ara guillo, or “now, I’m leaving in a hurry.”

The latter would imply a certain sense of no-nonsense urgency for coffee and booze in a cup, which would go well with the overall feel of the beverage.

Variations on the Carajillo

Carajillo

In some places, the carajillo has had a couple of interesting twists added to it.

For example, the flaming Spanish coffee we mentioned above involves literally setting the drink on fire!

And in Mexico, the drink has been altered into something quite different, though equally as exciting. In a Mexican carajillo, a sweet vanilla-citrus liqueur called Licor 43 is added to the carajillo recipe, while the coffee is swapped out for espresso.


And there you have it! Carajillo coffee is a drink that is intensely flavorful and an experience that you won’t easily forget.

This one is a great option when you want to impress some guests with a new drink made with your impressive barista and bartending skills!

If you’ve tried this one out, we’d love to hear about it. And, as always, please consider sharing the post, too!