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Coffee Cocktails: The Carajillo

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Carajillo in a lovely sugar-rimmed glass. [Photograph: Freddie Murphy on Flickr]

Forget the cream and sugar: Sometimes the best way to improve a cup of coffee is to get boozy on it. They've got the right idea in Spain, where a drink called carajillo is a Spaniard spin on the Italian caffè corretto, or "corrected coffee."

Though a peripherally related American drink appears on bar menus as a "Spanish coffee," the carajillo is more than just a wake-me-up after a long night of sports-bar carousing. In Spain, actual ingredients vary slightly: Sometimes it's simply a black coffee spiked with dark rum, while elsewhere it might be spiced with cinnamon, or featuring a squeeze of lemon. There is usually—but not always—some sugar in the mix or on the rim of the glass, but it almost never features that very American addition of cheap whipped cream. (Not that I'm opposed to whipped cream.)

Huber's Café in Portland, OR, however, might be the only acceptable place to order the American bastardization of this drink, however, if only for the spot's novelty and charming history. The city's oldest restaurant—founded in 1879—Huber's happens to specialize in turkey, not coffee. But their Spaniard brew is famous for its flair: Brewed coffee gets punched up with Kahlua, Bacardi 151, triple sec, and nutmeg, set ablaze at your table, and then capped off with a head of whipped cream.

So what if the coffee liqueur might be redundant, the triple sec seems kind of gross in coffee, and igniting the finished drink is a little frightening? It's a drink that definitely requires a little coraje, or "courage." Of the liquid variety.

Huber's Cafe

411 SW 3rd Ave, Portland OR 97204 (map)
503-228-5686; hubers.com

About the author: Erin Meister trains baristas and inspires coffee-driven people for Counter Culture Coffee. She's a confident barista, an audacious eater, and a smiling runner, but she remains a Nervous Cook.

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