Carajillo Spain

The Traditional Spanish Carajillo: A Coffee Cocktail with Brandy or Rum

Carajillo Spain

A Carajillo is a traditional Spanish coffee cocktail made with espresso and liquor, usually brandy or rum. It is typically served in a small glass and is sometimes garnished with a twist of lemon peel. The Carajillo is said to have originated in the 19th century as a way for workers to combine their morning coffee with a little pick-me-up from the liquor.

Traditionally, the best liquor to use in a Carajillo is brandy or rum. Both of these liquors have bold, full flavors that complement the rich, bold flavor of the espresso in the Carajillo. Brandy is a type of spirit that is made by distilling wine, and it has a smooth, rich flavor with notes of oak, vanilla, and caramel. Rum is a type of spirit made from sugarcane and has a sweet, tropical flavor with hints of molasses and spice.

That being said, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to making a Carajillo, and you can feel free to experiment with different types of liquor to find the combination that you like best. Some other options to consider include whiskey, vodka, or even liqueurs like Liquor 43 or Kahlua. The key is to choose a liquor that has a flavor that you enjoy and that complements the rich, bold flavor of the espresso.

Traditional Spanish Carajillo Recipe

The ingredients and preparation of the Carajillo can vary, but it is generally made by combining hot espresso with a shot of liquor and sometimes sugar and serving it over ice. Some variations also include the addition of other ingredients such as milk or cream.


  • 1.5 ounces brandy or rum
  • 1 shot of hot espresso
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Lemon peel for garnish (optional)


  1. Pour the brandy or rum into a small glass.
  2. Add the shot of hot espresso and sugar, if using.
  3. Stir to combine.
  4. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel, if desired.
  5. Serve immediately.

The flavor of the Carajillo can vary depending on the type of liquor used and the proportion of coffee to liquor. In general, a Carajillo made with brandy will have a smoother, more refined flavor, while one made with rum will have a sweeter, more tropical taste.

The addition of sugar can also affect the overall flavor of the Carajillo, adding a touch of sweetness to balance out the potential bitterness of the coffee and the bite of the liquor.


In Spain, Carajillos are traditionally consumed in the morning as a pick-me-up, similar to how Americans might have a cup of coffee with a shot of espresso. They are often served in cafes or bars with breakfast or as a mid-morning snack. Carajillos are also popular in the afternoon or evening as a way to end a meal or as a nightcap.

That being said, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to when to drink a Carajillo. It is a popular and widely enjoyed cocktail in Spain, and it can be consumed at any time of day depending on personal preference. Some people might enjoy a Carajillo in the morning as a way to start their day, while others might prefer to have one in the evening as a way to relax after a long day.

Ultimately, the best time to drink a Carajillo is whenever you feel like it!