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Forget the espresso martini, these two cocktails from Mexico and the Canary Islands are better alternatives

Espresso martini alternatives we love

Coffee cocktails
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If you’re a fan of caffeinated, coffee-based cocktails, there’s a good chance that the warming, wintry Irish coffee , and the wildly popular, turbo-charged espresso martini are your go-tos. The latter is a take on the classic martini, featuring vodka (just like a vodka martini), a coffee liqueur (like Kahlúa), simple syrup, and freshly brewed espresso.

Like many iconic cocktails, its history is up for debate. But the most popular story takes us back to 1983. This is where the espresso martini was first crafted in London by a bartender named Dick Bradsell at a bar called Fred’s Club. And while this cocktail is still tremendously popular among martini and caffeine fans, it’s probably not even the best way to enjoy coffee in cocktail form. There are two other drinks, one with its origins in Mexico and the other in the Canary Islands, that deserve your attention as well.

Coffee cocktaik
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Better alternatives to the espresso martini

While we enjoy expanding our drinking palate and trying new things, we love a well-made espresso martini. One of its only downfalls is that it’s not a simple cocktail. It requires a fair amount of ingredients and more preparation than many drinkers are willing to take. Luckily, two coffee-centric cocktails are equally (if not more) flavorful and much easier to whip up. Of course, we’re talking about the Mexico-born Carajillo and the Canary Islands’ Barraquito. The best part? Both feature the same unique ingredient. Hint: it’s not the coffee.

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When it comes to Mexican cocktails, the classic Margarita and grapefruit-filled Paloma are the standard. On top of those two, many of the country’s most well-known cocktails are tequila-based. This should come as no surprise to fans of the agave-based drink. But if you’ve ever enjoyed a spicy, warming Mexican coffee, you know about the country’s coffee prowess. That’s why we love the Carajillo; it’s only made with two ingredients: espresso and a Spanish liqueur called Licor 43, a vanilla and citrus-centric liqueur made with forty-three herbs and botanicals.

Coffee cocktail
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Most popular in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, the Barraquito is served throughout the island chain. While its true creation is a bit of a mystery, many believe that it was named for a man who would order the drink by listing the ingredients at the Imperial Bar on Tenerife. This surprisingly simple, sweet, coffee-centric drink is traditionally made with espresso, condensed milk, frothed milk, lemon zest, and (just like the Carajillo) Licor 43. It’s known for its flavor profile featuring bitterness from the espresso and sweetness and citrus and vanilla from the Licor 43.

Licor 43
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Stock up on Licor 43

While coffee, specifically espresso, is a must-have for home bartenders hoping to craft these two drinks, the most important ingredient is the aforementioned Licor 43. This unique, herbal, flavorful liqueur is in both recipes, so you definitely should add a bottle (or two) to your home bar.

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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