Carajillo 43 is a type of Spanish coffee liqueur made with brandy and coffee. It gets its name from the Spanish words for coffee (“café”) and brandy (“carajo”). The “43” refers to the alcohol percentage of 43% ABV (86 proof).
Carajillo 43 has a rich, intense coffee flavor complemented by notes of vanilla, caramel, and oak from the brandy. It’s commonly served as an after-dinner drink or digestive aid in Spain and throughout Europe. The coffee provides a jolt of energy while the brandy warms the palate.
What are the origins of carajillo 43?
Carajillo 43 originated in Spain, where it’s been popular for decades as a coffee cocktail. The exact origins are unclear, but it’s believed that Spanish farmers and laborers in the 1800s began adding aguardiente (a grape-based brandy) to their coffee as a way to give them more energy and warmth.
Adding brandy to coffee gradually evolved into the drink we now know as carajillo. It became popular in cafés across Spain in the early 20th century. The “43” label was likely added later on to indicate the specific alcohol percentage.
While there are many variations of carajillo today, carajillo 43 remains the most traditional and popular formulation. It showcases the classic Spanish profile of rich coffee and aged brandy.
How is carajillo 43 made?
Authentic carajillo 43 is made with just two ingredients: strong black coffee and Spanish brandy.
The coffee is typically a dark roast like espresso or Cuban-style coffee. This gives it a richer, bolder flavor that stands up to the alcohol. An ideal coffee will have notes of smoke, chocolate, and caramel.
For the brandy, a good-quality Spanish brandy like Carlos I or Torres 10 is used. These brandies are distilled from grapes and aged for years in oak barrels, developing nuanced flavors. The brandy contributes strong oak influences as well as vanilla, spice, and dried fruit notes.
To make carajillo 43, the coffee and brandy are simply mixed together in equal 50/50 proportions. Some recipes may tweak the ratios slightly, but keeping it equal highlights both the coffee and brandy.
The drink can be served straight up or over ice. Some cafés in Spain will flame the carajillo 43 tableside for an added show. The high alcohol content allows the carajillo to readily catch fire for a few seconds.
What does carajillo 43 taste like?
Carajillo 43 offers a bold, intense taste that contrasts the bittersweet coffee with the woody, vanilla-laced brandy.
On the nose, you’ll immediately smell the rich coffee aroma along with a backdrop of oak and caramel. The first sip leads with a solid coffee flavor – its bitterness cutting through the 43% alcohol.
As you swallow, you’ll notice more of the brandy notes. There are rich flavors of oak, tobacco, raisins, nutmeg, and vanilla. The finish is smooth and warming with lingering notes of toasted coffee beans and chocolate-covered cherries.
Despite the high alcohol content, carajillo 43 maintains balance. Neither the coffee nor brandy overpower each other. The richness of the espresso matches up well with the aged brandy.
Compared to drinks like Irish coffee, carajillo 43 has a more robust coffee presence. The Spanish brandy also lends unique flavors not found in Irish whiskey or other liquors.
How should you drink carajillo 43?
In Spain, carajillo 43 is often enjoyed as a digestif after heavy meals. The coffee provides a boost of energy while the brandy aids digestion. It’s also popular as an early evening cocktail.
Here are some tips for enjoying carajillo 43 properly:
– Drink it neat – Carajillo 43 is traditionally served straight up in a small glass like a shot or sherry glass. This allows you to savor the complex aromas and tastes.
– Don’t add ice – Icing will significantly dilute the coffee and brandy flavors. Drink it at room temperature.
– Use good quality ingredients – Don’t skimp on poor instant coffee or cheap brandy. High quality beans and Spanish brandy make a difference.
– Pair with dessert – Carajillo 43 goes great with Spanish desserts like churros, baked custards, or chocolate cake. The coffee cuts through the sweetness.
– Flame before drinking (optional) – For some added Spanish flair, you can gently warm the carajillo 43 by igniting the alcohol for a few seconds.
– Sip slowly – Savor carajillo 43 with slow sips to pick out all the different coffee and brandy notes in each sip.
– Try variations – Some popular tweaks include using condensed milk or orange zest. But start with the classic recipe first.
What are some variations of carajillo 43?
While carajillo 43 traditionally contains just coffee and brandy, creative mixologists have developed some twists over the years:
Carajillo 43 Con Leche – Made with condensed milk to add sweetness and cut down on the bitterness.
Carajillo 43 Con Naranja – Flavored with orange zest or a splash of orange liqueur like Cointreau.
Carajillo 43 Con Hielo – Served over ice to make a longer drink, similar to an iced coffee.
Carajillo 43 Oscuro – Uses an Americano or double espresso for bolder coffee flavor.
Carajillo 43 Doble – Doubles the amount of brandy for a stronger alcoholic kick.
Carajillo 43 Crema – Topped with a float of heavy cream or sweetened whipped cream.
Carajillo 43 Especial – Spiked with a complementary liqueur like rum or whiskey.
Carajillo Royal – Ups the luxury factor by using Cognac VSOP instead of regular brandy.
Carajillo Negra – Made with cold brew coffee for a deeper, richer coffee profile.
Where can you find carajillo 43 in Spain?
In Spain, carajillo 43 is widely available at these types of locations:
– Traditional cafés – Look for small cafés filled with locals, as they’ll likely serve authentic carajillo 43. Popular preparation styles include flamed tableside or with lemon peel.
– Restaurants – Many Spanish restaurants offer carajillo 43 as an after-dinner drink. It’s a nice digestive aid following a big meal.
– Chocolaterias – Specialty chocolate shops prepare rich carajillo 43 made with ultra-thick hot chocolate rather than regular coffee.
– Nightclubs – Carajillo 43 is a fixture at Spanish discotecas and dance clubs, where it provides late-night energy.
– Bars – It’s commonly on the menu at tapas bars and wine bars, where it complements sherry and appetizers.
– Liquor stores – You can buy quality Spanish brandy for homemade carajillo 43 at local vinotecas and liquor stores.
The best places to find carajillo 43 are often hole-in-the-wall spots away from major tourist areas. Ask bartenders and servers for their house recipe.
What brands of Spanish brandy are used in carajillo 43?
These high-quality Spanish brandies are traditionally used for making carajillo 43:
– Torres 10 – A popular, easy-to-find brandy aged 10 years from the Torres winemaking family. Mellow and reasonably priced.
– Carlos I – Apremium 3-year-old brandy from Jerez flavored with cherries for a fruit-forward taste.
– Magno – Made by Pedro Domecq, this brandy sees 5 years in oak to develop rich, complex flavors.
– Gran Duque D’Alba – A unique blend of wine brandy and pomace brandy bottled with coffee beans inside.
– Lepanto Brandy de Jerez Solera Gran Reserva – Aged 12 years for extremely smooth, nuanced flavor.
– Osborne Veterano – A top-shelf blended brandy aged 20 years that’s lush and expensive. The cognac of brandies.
– Fundador – A popular export brandy marked by its triangular bottle shape. Offers orchard fruit and baking spice flavors.
The key is finding a well-aged Spanish brandy marked Solera or Gran Reserva on the label. This indicates higher quality production.
Does carajillo 43 have any health benefits?
While excessive alcohol should be avoided, carajillo 43 does contain some compounds that may offer a few potential health benefits in moderation:
– Antioxidants – Coffee contains polyphenol antioxidants that can help neutralize cell damage from free radicals.
– Liver protection – One study showed the antioxidants in coffee help protect the liver from damage caused by alcohol.
– Heart health – Coffee may lower the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart failure.
– Anti-inflammatory – The polyphenols may help reduce inflammation, a factor in many diseases.
– Longevity – Research correlates moderate coffee and alcohol intake with increased longevity compared to abstaining completely.
However, these potential benefits are easily negated if overindulging in high-alcohol drinks. Always enjoy carajillo 43 in careful moderation as part of a balanced lifestyle.
What are some similar coffee cocktail recipes?
If you enjoy the coffee-alcohol flavor profile of carajillo 43, consider trying these other creative cocktail recipes:
Irish Coffee – Fresh brewed coffee with Irish whiskey, brown sugar, and heavy cream.
Jamaican Coffee – Uses rum for a tropical twist. Plus coconut cream and nutmeg.
Spiked Thai Iced Coffee – Cold brew coffee with Thai rum, condensed milk, and cardamom.
Espresso Martini – A mix of vodka, espresso, coffee liqueur, and simple syrup.
Rumchata Coffee – Combines coffee, spiced rum, and creamy Rumchata liqueur.
Cold Brew Old Fashioned – An aged rum Old Fashioned made with cold brew concentrate.
Dublin Iced Coffee – Features Irish Cream liqueur to sweeten the iced coffee.
Mexican Coffee – Uses tequila along with coffee liqueur and agave nectar.
Coffee Alexander – Layers brandy, coffee liqueur, and cream for a dessert-like sipper.
Coffee Toddy – A hot toddy with bourbon, honey, lemon and coffee.
What are the key takeaways about carajillo 43?
– Carajillo 43 is a traditional Spanish coffee drink made with equal parts rich black coffee and aged Spanish brandy.
– It has a robust coffee flavor complemented by notes of oak, caramel, and vanilla from the brandy.
– Carajillo 43 emerged in the late 1800s and became popular in Spain in the 1900s as an energizing work drink.
– It’s traditionally served neat in a small glass, but can also be enjoyed over ice or with orange zest.
– High quality beans like Cuban-style coffee and brandy aged 3-10 years are recommended.
– In Spain, it’s often enjoyed after dinner but also makes a nice early evening cocktail.
– The coffee provides a caffeine boost while the brandy aids in digestion after heavy meals.
– When prepared properly from quality ingredients, carajillo 43 offers a sophisticated yet comforting sipping experience.
Carajillo 43 remains a timeless Spanish coffee cocktail that offers robust coffee flavor balanced by the warm flavors of aged brandy. It has a rich cultural heritage in Spain, where it serves as both an energizing pick-me-up and post-dinner digestif. While high in alcohol, carajillo 43 maintains harmony between its two ingredients.
When seeking out an authentic carajillo 43, look for popular Spanish brandies like Carlos I or Torres 10 to mix with a strong dark roast coffee. Allow the flavors to merge by drinking it neat at room temperature. Slowly sipping carajillo 43 lets you fully savor the contrast of bitter espresso and sweet, woody brandy. It’s a treat for coffee and spirits lovers alike.