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What is a carajillo?

The carajillo was having a moment in Oaxaca this past summer when your Guide visited. It was the signature cocktail served at Criollo when our street food tour dropped by. It was one of the few cocktails many coffee shops offered. It was ubiquitous on restaurant chalkboards. The cool, dark brown cocktail in a tumbler glass, maybe with a few coffee beans floating in the crema, fits well with Oaxaca’s food culture. It’s a drink that can hold layers of savory, herby spicey flavors mixed with syrupy sweetness and a sharp pinch from the alcohol. So what is a carajillo? Let’s explore a little…

A classic carajillo recipe

  • 1 espresso
  • 2 ozs Licor 43 
  • Pour the liqueur on ice, then add your espresso, and serve.

That’s the traditional Spanish carajillo. Licor 43 is a Spanish liqueur of 43 herbs, fruits, and spices made in Cartagena, Spain. If you’re in Mexico, though, using coffee from Oaxaca, you don’t need to ship a bottle over from Spain. You can use something local, like Yolixpa Teepak.

My favorite carajillo is with the liqueur Yolixpa Teepak. It’s made in the small town of Cuetzalan in Puebla, with a very old recipe of local herbs. It was originally used as a medicine. I was introduced to it at Criollo. It’s what they use to make their carajillo, which you can see in the photo above. 

And as always when we talk about things like caffeine and alcohol: enjoy mindfully!

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