The only thing better than a good recipe? When something’s so easy that you don’t even need one. Welcome to It’s That Simple, a column where we talk you through the dishes and drinks we can make with our eyes closed, like this two-ingredient crowdpleasing coffee cocktail.
On a recent trip to visit friends and family in Michoacán and Mexico City, it seemed every restaurant I went to for lunch or dinner had a Carajillo on their menu. Its popularity makes total sense: This coffee drink is simple to make, energizing to sip, and works for any occasion, whether it’s after a big meal or as a pick-me-up on a lazy afternoon.
I grew up in Mexico but despite living (and eating and drinking) there for years, the rise of the Carajillo feels new—seemingly overnight, it’s taken over.
The Carjillo originated in Spain as a spiked coffee served hot, but the Mexican Carajillo has taken on a life of its own. In the past few years, the Carajillo empire has grown so large in Mexico that you can find all sorts of Carajillo cocktails with a twist—flavored with Mazapán, horchata, or even lavender. Kellogg’s has a Carajillo-flavored cereal. Supermarket shelves are lined with Carajillo-flavored chocolates and bottled Carajillos. And Carajillo cake recipes have taken over baking blogs.
If you’re an espresso martini fan, looking for your new drink of the season, or need a new go-to after-dinner drink, this is the coffee cocktail to master. Luckily, as far as drink recipes go, it couldn’t be easier. It’s a simple, 1:1 ratio of coffee and Licor 43—an essential, can’t-skip ingredient in this cocktail recipe.
Licor 43, also called Cuarenta Y Tres, is a sweet Spanish liqueur with notes of citrus and vanilla. The name is a nod to the 43 spices and botanicals used in its recipe. From Cartagena, Spain, it’s a yellow-ish amber and its mild spiciness is what makes the Carajillo the light, sweet digestif that can’t be beat. One bottle is a more-than-worthy investment so you can have Carajillos on-demand through the summer (and riff on other classic cocktails).
Here’s how to make a 2-Ingredient Carajillo
Pour 2 oz. espresso or strong coffee and 2 oz. Licor 43 into a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and seal it. Shake it for 15 seconds, then strain and pour it over a rock glass (other other cocktail glass of your choice) with ice cubes. The texture should come out smooth and velvety with a light bit of foam.