What is Cafe Corretto and How to Make this Alcoholic Coffee Drink

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Johny Morrisson


Cafe Corretto is a traditional Italian coffee beverage that takes a shot of espresso and “corrects” it with a small amount of grappa or brandy, giving it complex flavors and a warming kick.

This passionate infusion is no mundane drink – full-bodied espresso and a hint of liqueur take things to new heights.

Cafe Corretto

Let’s dive into the art of cafe corretto – espresso with a “corrective” splash of liquor. I’ll discuss the brief history and variations of this drink and what sorts of alcohol go well with this classic Italian beverage.

How to Make Espresso Corretto

Here’s a simple authentic recipe for Espresso Corretto

Ingredients

Gather the following ingredients to make Espresso Corretto at home

1. Spirit: The best and most commonly used spirit for Espresso Corretto is Grappa or Brandy. You can also use other spirits such as Rum, whisky, Bailey’s Irish Cream, or Coffee liqueurs.

2- Espresso: The base of the drink is a freshly pulled shot (or double shot) of rich, high-quality espresso. Dark roasted beans are preferred for a rich and intense coffee taste

Step-by-Step Guide:

1- Prepare Espresso: Start by preparing a fresh shot of Espresso using your Espresso machine.

If you don’t have an Espresso machine you can use other brewing methods like French Press, Drip, or Moka Pot. Just make sure to prepare a strong and concentrated cup of coffee by using more coffee grounds and less water.

2- Allow the Espresso to cool: Allow the espresso shot to cool to room temperature before adding spirit.

This step is important because if you don’t do it the hot espresso will vaporize the spirit very quickly.

3- Lace with Spirit: Add the Grappa or Brandy to drink. Ideally, it is done right before sipping to prevent the alcohol from vaporizing.

The traditional recipe calls for a 1:1 ratio of Espresso to spirit. However, you can adjust it according to your taste and preference. Don’t exceed the ratio of spirit from 5 ounces as it will completely subdue the flavors of coffee.

Tips for preparing the best Cafe Corretto

  • Traditionally, a 1:1 ratio of espresso to alcohol is used. This means for a 30ml single shot of espresso, 30 ml of spirit is added.
  • Although grappa is undoubtedly the traditional alcoholic beverage for a Cafe Corretto, you may try it with amaretto, brandy, or something like Bailey’s Irish Cream.
  • Drink it right after adding the Brandy otherwise, the hot espresso shot will vaporize the Alcohol rapidly. That’s why in most Cafes Grappa and Espresso shots are served in separate glasses so you can mix them right before taking the sip.
  • Never add sugar or sweeteners to Espresso Corretto, it will completely ruin the experience.

Variations of Cafe Corretto

If you don’t like brandy or grappa you can pair Caffe Correto with other alcoholic drinks, such as Amaretto, Sambuca, Cognac, and Irish. 

Sambuca Corretto

It’s known as “Cafe Corretto Alla Sambuca” in Italian cafes, and it is prepared with anise-flavored alcohol. This variation is popular in southern Italy.

The sambuca gives the coffee a distinct licorice flavor and a slightly sweet aroma.

Amaretto Corretto

Amaretto Corretto is a popular variation, particularly in the northern regions of Italy where amaretto liqueur is produced.

Amaretto is a sweet almond-flavored liqueur that is typically made from a blend of apricot pits, almonds, and other botanicals, which are steeped in alcohol and then distilled.

The amaretto gives the coffee a distinct almond flavor and a slightly sweet aroma.

Maraschino Corretto

Maraschino liqueur originated from Balkan Countries and is a clear, sweet liqueur made from the distillation of Marasca cherries and their pits, and it has a distinct cherry flavor.

The Maraschino gives the coffee a sweet and fruity flavor, and the combination of the cherry liqueur and coffee creates a delicious and sweet drink.

Irish Corretto

It is an Irish variation of Cafe Corretto, that is “corrected” with a small amount of Irish whiskey.

The Irish whiskey gives the coffee a distinct smoky flavor and a slightly sweet aroma.

Mocha Corretto

For a sweeter and chocolaty variation, you can add a small amount of chocolate syrup or cocoa powder to your espresso before adding the alcohol.

The combination of espresso, grappa, and chocolate creates a decadent and comforting drink that is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Read a guide on Cafe Mocha

History and the Origins of Cafe Corretto

The History of Caffè Corretto is traced back to Italy, where coffee and alcohol have long been popular beverages. Italian farmers are often attributed to the innovation of combining grappa or brandy with Espresso, as they have a long history of having a shot of their homemade spirits alongside a cup of strong coffee.

One story suggests that during the fascist era in Italy, coffee became very expensive. So regular Italians started drinking other caffeinated drinks like chicory or orzo instead. To mask the bitter taste of these substitutes, they began adding liquors such as grappa or brandy. That’s how “cafe corretto” gets its name as the term “corretto,” meaning “corrected,” referred to correcting or improving the bitter flavors by adding alcohol.

As time passed, the drink became popular among Italians, and now Cafe Corretto can be found in cafes and bars worldwide. Still, its origins remain firmly rooted in Italian history and culture. 

Also Read: 30 Different types of Espresso drinks

How Cafe Corretto is served at Cafes?

Caffè Corretto is typically served as an after-dinner drink at cafes and restaurants throughout Italy.

Mostly in cafes, the Espresso shot and Grappa are served separately, allowing you to mix them according to your taste.

Here’s a tip to drink Caffe Corretto like a pro!

Add a little Grappa to the espresso shot and drink it.

Leave a little Espresso in the cup and add the remaining Grappa. Swirl the cup to rinse all the remaining Espresso and drink it again. This is known as Rexentin and this is how locals drink Espresso Corretto.

Caffe Corretto serving

Also Read: Why is Espresso served with water

Final Thoughts

Caffè Corretto is more than just a coffee drink. With just a small addition of Grappa or Brandy, this classic Italian Espresso transforms into a whole new world of intoxicating flavors.

Whether you’re looking for a bold and bitter Grappa Corretto, a sweet and nutty Amaretto Corretto, or a decadent and chocolatey Mocha Corretto, there’s a variation to suit every taste and occasion.

Also Read about other related Espresso based drinks

FAQs

When Should You Drink Caffè Corretto?

Traditionally, espresso corretto is enjoyed as an after-dinner beverage or a late-night libation.
Since this beverage contains alcohol, consume it after evening hours and in moderation.

How’s Cafe Corretto Different From Espresso Martini? 

Both Cafe Corretto and Espresso Martini are alcoholic beverages made with espresso.
Espresso Martinis are typically prepared with Vodka instead of Grappa, which results in a different taste.
Check out Espresso Martini Recipe

Cafe Corretto Recipe

Here's the traditional recipe of Cafe Corretto
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1
Author: Johny Morrisson

Equipment

  • Espresso machine

Ingredients

  • 1 Shot Espresso Shot
  • 15 mL Grappa Or Brandy
  • Cocoa Powder (optional)

Instructions

  • First prepare a fresh shot of Espresso using your Espresso machine and let it cool to room temperature
    If you don't have an Espresso machine you can use other brewing methods like French Press, Drip, or Moka Pot.
  • Add the Grappa or Brandy right before sipping to prevent the alcohol from vaporizing.
    The ideal amount of Grappa is 30mL per shot of Espresso. However, you can adjust it according to your taste and preference

Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About. He knows everything there is to know about coffee and loves sharing his passion with others.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.

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