Carajillo Cocktail Recipe - A Mexican coffee drink

By Timo Torner / Last updated on August 31, 2023

The Carajillo Cocktail is an easy-to-make coffee drink often served as a digestif. Originally from Spain, it turned into more of a Mexican tradition.
Carajillo Cocktail

When going out for dinner in Mexico City, most restaurants will offer a Carajillo after your main course. In the Mexican capital, the coffee cocktail made with espresso and Licor 43 is literally everywhere. -And also in other regions of the country, people know how to serve a delicious Carajillo cocktail.

Carajillo cocktail with Licor 43

Carajillo Cocktail Recipe

A Mexican after-dinner drink made with espresso and Licor 43.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: coffee, espresso, licor 43
Servings: 1
Calories: 200kcal


  • 1 Jigger


  • 2 oz Freshly brewed espresso (chilled)
  • 2 oz Licor 43


  • Brew espresso and set it aside to cool down.
  • Add ice into a rocks glass and pour Licor 43 on top.
  • Gently pour the espresso on top of Licor 43 to create a layering effect. You can use a bar spoon for easy layering.
  • Stir your Carajillo before drinking.


Calories: 200kcalCarbohydrates: 12gSugar: 12g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

What is a Carajillo Cocktail?

Simply put, a Carajillo cocktail combines espresso and Licor 43. Hence, sometimes you may also find it on menus as Carajillo 43.

The flavor combination of rich, bitter coffee and sweet vanilla notes works extremely well - as we also know from other famous beverages like Baileys.

In the background, you can also taste hints of chocolate and citrus.

How to Drink the Carajillo

In restaurants, a Carajillo often comes in the form of a cocktail with all ingredients mixed together in a glass or a mug.

However, the traditional way to serve this drink is to serve Licor 43 in a glass filled with ice and an espresso on the side. Before drinking, you pour the espresso over the liqueur and stir.

Ingredients & Recommendations

To make a Carajillo cocktail, all you need is freshly brewed espresso, Licor 43, and ice cubes: 

  • Licor 43: is a complex vanilla-flavored liqueur from Cartagena, Spain. Made from 43 botanicals, the range of flavors in this liqueur is way wider than in other vanilla liqueurs. You can taste notes of cocoa, orange, cinnamon, mint, and a light hint of pepper. It contains 31% alcohol by volume and is usually paired with either coffee or milk.
  • Espresso: freshly brewed espresso is what you need for the Carajillo. Don't make the mistake and think you can let your espresso sit for a while because you mix it with cold elements anyway. Mix it while it's warm.

Best Practice when Making a Carajillo Cocktail

The easiest way to serve a Carajillo is the traditional version - A glass with ice and Licor 43 and an espresso cup of freshly brewed, still warm espresso.

If you plan to make a Carajillo at home for friends or family, you can also layer the espresso before serving the drink. That's the way you would get it in restaurants.

These are the steps to make a perfect Carajillo cocktail:

  1. Brew a fresh espresso and set it aside for a moment. 
  2. Wait a minute before starting the next step to give the espresso enough time to cool down just a little. It should still be warm, though. Hot coffee turned cold does not taste pleasant.
  3. Grab a rocks glass, add ice cubes to it, and measure the correct amount of Licor 43.
  4. Pour Licor 43 over the ice cubes to chill the liqueur. Either serve the combo like this or continue with step 5.
  5. Slowly pour the espresso over the ice to layer the coffee on top of Licor 43. You can use a bar spoon, which will help you to control the pouring speed.
  6. Serve a small spoon along your Carajillo and instruct your guests to stir the drink before consumption.

Variations of the Carajillo

As mentioned before, the Carajillo is originally from Spain. There, and also in Colombia, a Carajillo isn't made with Licor 43 but with brandy. Other Spanish-speaking countries like Cuba also have their own version of a Carajillo, which uses Cuban rum instead of Licor 43.

Other countries have similar recipes. For example, in Italy, ordering a caffè corretto will get you an espresso mixed with grappa. In Austria, a Fiaker will get you a strong coffee with a side of cherry brandy or rum.

Within Mexico, the drink is so popular that you can even find shaken variations - commonly known as Orange Carajillo.

More Coffee Cocktails

If you like alcoholic beverages made with coffee, you should check out the recipes below. It's a fine selection of the best classic coffee cocktails:

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