A carajillo (Spanish pronunciation: [kaɾa'xiʝo, -ʎo]) is a cold coffee drink to which a liquor is added. Similar to Irish coffee, it is typical of Spain and several Latin American countries, such as Colombia and Venezuela, where it is usually made with brandy; Cuba, where it is usually made with rum; and in Mexico where mezcal or a coffee liqueur such as Kahlúa or Tía María may be used. Spices such as cinnamon and fruit such as lemon peel are commonly added to more elaborate versions in Spain. Carajillo is usually served in a small glass.

According to folk etymology, its origin dates to the times when Cuba was a Spanish province. The troops combined coffee with rum to give them courage. Spanish coraje means courage, and its diminutive form is corajillo, later changing to carajillo, while carajo is an expletive in Spanish. In Catalan, the carajillo is called cigaló. A similar Italian drink is known as caffè corretto.


The carajillo is known throughout Spain. Its preparation varies by region, and from simply pouring spirit into an espresso to heating the spirit with lemon, sugar and cinnamon before adding the coffee. In Catalonia, for example, it is usually presented in its simplest form of coffee with brandy (unburned) and with the sugar on the side, so that the consumer can add it to their own taste. In the province of Castellón, on the other hand, the preparation is usually a little more elaborate, because it is normal to heat and partially burn the alcohol in the glass, along with the sugar, cinnamon, coffee beans and a piece of lemon rind. This version is also often preferred by cocktail bars and high-class restaurants when a more luxurious (and more expensive) version is required.

A Spanish 'typical recipe' might involve combining two parts of coffee with one part brandy (or other distillate). First, the liquor is heated, to which a few coffee beans, a lemon rind and the sugar are added. Some people also include a small piece of cinnamon stick. The whole is then set on fire and stirred until the alcohol has been reduced a little and the aromas have been enhanced and mixed. It is then extinguished, mixed with coffee, and served very hot. If the alcohol is poured first and the coffee is poured not directly but first over the back of a spoon, the liquids are not mixed since they have different densities.

The American version uses a heated sugar-rimmed Spanish coffee mug with 34 US fl oz (22 ml) rum and 12 US fl oz (15 ml) triple sec. The drink is then flamed to caramelize the sugar. 2 US fl oz (59 ml) coffee liqueur is then added which puts out the flame, and then it is topped off with 3–4 US fl oz (89–118 ml) of coffee, and whipped cream.

In Mexico carajillos may be made with espresso (or some other type of strong coffee) and "Licor 43" – a sweet vanilla-citrus flavored liquor – and poured over ice on a short glass. It is commonly drunk as a digestive after meals.

See also


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