The Carajillo Cocktail - A Mexican coffee drink

By Timo Torner / Last updated on March 20, 2023

The Carajillo cocktail is an easy-to-make Mexican cocktail often served as a digestif. Originally from Spain, today the Carajillo is more of a Mexican thing.
Carajillo cocktail

When going out for dinner in Mexico City, most restaurants will offer a Carajillo after your main course. Although the Carajillo is originally from Spain, it's an integral element of Mexican culture today.

In the Mexican capital, the coffee cocktail made with espresso and Licor 43 is literally everywhere. But also in other regions of the country, people know how to serve a delicious Carajillo cocktail.

What is a Carajillo cocktail?

Simply put, a Carajillo cocktail combines espresso and Licor 43. Therefore, it is sometimes also called Carajillo 43.

Fresh brewed espresso coffee

The flavor combination of rich and 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.

Ingredients of a Carajillo cocktail

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

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

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 it.

What is Licor 43?

Licor 43 bottle

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.

Besides vanilla, the taste of Licor 43 carries notes of cocoa, orange, cinnamon, mint, and light pepper note. It contains 31% alcohol by volume and is usually paired with either coffee or milk.

How to make 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 but cooled down 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 to let it chill. 
  2. Wait a few minutes before starting the next step to give the espresso enough time to cool down.
  3. Grab a glass (rocks glass is fine) and add ice cubes to chill the glass while measuring the correct amount of Licor 43.
  4. Pour Licor 43 over the ice cubes to immediately chill the liqueur.
  5. Slowly pour the espresso over the ice to layer the coffee on top of Licor 43. You can use a bar spoon to control the pouring speed more easily.
  6. Serve the Carajillo along with a small spoon, and instruct your guests to stir the drink before consumption.

Other versions 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. 

Also, Cuba has its own version of a Carajillo, which naturally uses Cuban Rum instead of Licor 43.

Orange Carajillo cocktail

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.

Even in Mexico, you can find shaken variations of the drink, sometimes referred to 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:

Carajillo cocktail with Licor 43

Carajillo cocktail

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



  • 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.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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