How To Make A Carajillo: 5 Carajillo Recipes

Learn how to make a Carajillo recipe with easy-to-find ingredients that you can make within 15 minutes.

How to make a carajillo?
Carajillo is traditionally made of espresso

My mom loves everything coffee-related. She’s never been into alcohol, but since I introduced Carajillo, she has fallen in love, and we have kept testing recipes until we found the ones that work.

Carajillo is a Spanish coffee cocktail. It is made from simple and easy-to-find ingredients that mix together to create a well-rounded, full-bodied, thirst-quenching drink with an eye-pleasing look. Essentially, it’s a spiked coffee… but it’s also much more.

It differs from Irish coffee because there is generally no whipped cream used in this coffee drink (although we do break that rule in one of our recipes). Its beauty not only lies in its taste but also its versatility. That’s why we are showing you how to make not one, but five different carajillos.

What To Look For In The Best Carajillo Recipe

The Flavor Of Coffee

Carajillo is traditionally made of espresso. Espresso is one of the most authentic and purest forms of coffee. However, it is also the core component of a number of drink recipes (both with and without alcohol).

It has a high level of caffeine in it compared to other coffees. Most of the time, espresso is served warm. However, it does work chilled in a few wonderful drinks, with espresso martinis being the obvious example.

How to make a carajillo?
If you don’t have Licor 43 at home, opt for any other strong liquor like a Cardamaro, brandy, or Bourbon

Within the carajillo, it grounds the harsher tastes bourbonhol and the sweeter tastes of the liqueur. You will want to use fresh coffee beans to get the authentic experience of the drink. However, if you are watching your caffeine intake, you can also use decaf options.

A Tasty Liquor

In a traditional Carajillo recipe, Licor 43 is used as it carries a beautiful blend of citrus and fruit juices, vanilla, and aromatic herbs and spices. And that’s why when it marries with a strong shot of coffee libourbonesso. Besides that, Bourbon, Cardamaro, and Brandy are other great alternatives to replace Licor 43.

If you like a particular flavor, you can choose that for the drink too. For instance, some people love honey, so they choose honey bourbons. You can also go for a coffee liqueur, to increase the overall taste of coffee if that’s what you like.

As we said previously, the brilliance of this drink is its versatility. However, it should be noted that whatever liquor you choose for your cocktail recipe, you should consume it with caution. If you choose to make this post-dinner drink, it’s worth noting that there is alcohol in it and that alcohol should only be consumed in moderation.

5 Of The Best Carajillo Recipes

1. Traditional Carajillo

First off, let’s get the traditional recipe on top of the list. The recipe, for what is sometimes known as a Mexican Carajillo, involves a shot of Licor 43 and espresso coffee or some other type of strong coffee, and ice cubes.

If you get a carajillo in Mexico, then this is the version you are most likely to get: our two ounces of the sweet Spanish liqueur slowly over the ice, then follow with two ounces of espresso. There will be a thin line separating the two ingredients. Use a spoon to slowly stir the mixture a few times until it’s thoroughly blended. 

You may notice that there’s no sugar or sweetener inside the drink. But if you like it slightly sweeter, add some sugar to the hot coffee, stir it up, and then pour it into the glass before the Licor 43 goes in. The ingredients mixing together make for a visual almost as enticing as the taste itself.

2. Frothy Carajillo

The only thing that makes this Carajillo different from the traditional recipe is the frothy foam on top. The real secret here lies in the shaking technique. You need two ounces of Licor 43, three ounces of freshly-made black coffee, and ice cubes.

Start by brewing the coffee the way you like it. Mix the coffee with Licor 43 in a shaker with some ice of choice, close the lid tightly, and start shaking for one minute.

Stop when you see the fobourbonslowly pour it over fresh ice in a double rocks glass. You’ll start noticing it separates into liquid and foam in a few seconds. The result should almost resemble a latte.

Cocktail bars have really taken to the frothy carajillo, with it being served up as an alternative for customers who want a coffee cocktail that’s not an espresso martini.

3. Bourbon Carajillo

This one is my favorite Carajillo recipe of all time. I like to spruce it up with pineapple and amaro flavors in this recipe. Brew 1.75 ounces of espresso and keep it warm.

Add half an ounce of pineapple syrup, a quarter ounce of Cardamaro, and a three-quarters ounce of Licor 43.

And last but not least, one ounce of bourbon goes into the drink. When you have all the ingredients ready, put everything into the shaker, shake it with some ice for ten good seconds, and pour it into a coupe. Then pour the espresso over the ice, we like to use Johnny Walker, however, any bourbon will work here.

You will be surprised by how the flavors mix. This drink actually gives off vanilla notes, that mix in perfectly with the sweet taste of the amaro and bourbon.

4. Carajillo Valenciano

For the Carajillo Valenciano, you will need about three and a half ounces of espresso, teaspoons of sugar, and six ounces of rum. You can also add a bit of lime rind and a cinnamon stick to garnish if you want to spruce the drink up.

Carajillo drink with cinnamon on black background
Add a bit of lime rind and a cinnamon stick to garnish if you want to spruce the drink up

Start by putting the lime, sugar, and cinnamon in a heat-proof glass. Then warm the liqueur to a boil before pouring it over, all the while stirring it with a spoon. Then serve the espresso, seeing the layers slowly mix together which is the most popular way to serve this coffee cocktail in Valencia.

In Spain, sometimes the rum is lit on fire briefly before the espresso is added to the after-dinner cocktail. However, if you cannot do this safely, then it should be avoided. Nobody wants an accident with fire during their carajillo cocktail at brunch.

5. Pumpkin Spice Carajillo

This carajillo recipe throws out some of the traditional rules of the drink (rules were made to be broken, right!?) by using whipped cream. However, it is a delicious seasonal treat that you will savor, so who cares!

You will need one ounce of Bailey’s Irish Cream, one ounce of rum, and three ounces of espresso, along with some orange zest, whipped cream, and pumpkin spice. Add the baileys and rum to the mug, before simply adding the rest of the ingredients to the mug and topping with whipped cream.

This drink has virtually no prep time, but it’s as delicious as anything else you might be looking for. It might not be the most traditional version of the drink, but it sure is a tasty one.


  • Oanh Nguyen

    Born and raised by a traditional mama-barista, Oanh is a typical Viet coffee aficionado who would spend her entire precious Sunday showing you how to categorize coffee beans just by the looks and smells. She enjoys writing copies about everything drink-related while sipping her favorite rosebud tea.