If you’ve never had a caffè corretto, you’re missing out. This Italian coffee cocktail is equal parts delicious and easy to make, making it a great option for impressing your guests without requiring extensive amounts of work.
In this short guide, we teach you how to make the perfect caffè corretto. We’ll also give you a bit of background information about the caffè corretto and cover some of the most popular variations. Let’s get started.
Espresso and Grappa
The traditional caffè corretto contains only a shot of espresso and grappa; that’s it. In case you’re unfamiliar with grappa, it is a brandy made from the solid grape leftovers from winemaking called pomace. Grappa is usually between 35 percent and 60 percent alcohol by volume, making it on par with standard 40 percent alcohols like most vodka and whiskey.
Grappa’s flavor depends on the kind of grape pomace used to distill it, much like how wine’s flavor depends on what kind of grape is used to make it. Like Champagne and Bourbon, grappa must be produced in Italy, the Italian region of Switzerland, or San Marino. It also must be made from pomace, and the distillation process must not include water.
How much grappa is used in a caffè corretto is up to the person ordering. Some bartenders will add a few drops of grappa to espresso to make a caffè corretto, but the most common practice is giving the customer a shot of espresso and letting them add the grappa themselves.
Unfortunately, this means making your own caffè corretto is going to take some trial and error. There is no correct way to make a caffè corretto, unlike most cocktails, which can be freeing or paralyzing depending on your personality. If you like to follow carefully laid out recipes, don’t worry; we’ve got your back. Here is our favorite recipe, along with our recommendation for tweaking it until you find your personal sweet spot.
- Espresso machine
- 1.5 ounces freshly brewed espresso
- 1.5 ounces grappa
- Start by pulling a shot of espresso. There are no rules to follow here. Choose your favorite beans and start with your usual combination of brewing parameters.
- We recommend starting with an even division of espresso and grappa. For a standard-strength drink, that means 1.5 ounces each of espresso and grappa. Even though 1.5 ounces is quite a lot for a caffè corretto, it gives you a good starting point and uses enough grappa for you to familiarize yourself with the flavor.
Customizing the Recipe
Once you’ve made a few caffè correttos, you can start to adjust the amount of grappa you use to see how the flavor changes. A systematic approach to changing the amount of grappa is to add or subtract 0.5 ounces at a time. We find that 0.5 ounces are enough to notice a difference without being so much that the drink is unrecognizable.
For enterprising readers, you can also branch out further and replace the grappa with another spirit. Cognac, brandy, and sambuca are the most commonly used alternative liquors, but you could theoretically use whatever liquor you prefer.
If you want to order a caffè corretto at a bar, be prepared to specify whether you want to add the grappa yourself or if your bartender should add it. Also, if you want to order a caffè corretto with another liquor, the common practice is to order “caffè corretto alla sambuca,” or “caffè corretto alla cognac,” using the Italian word “alla” meaning “with.” We’re sure that your bartender would understand if you just said “caffè corretto with cognac,” but where’s the fun in that?
Caffè corretto is a less common coffee cocktail that deserves to be more popular. It’s effortless to make, can easily accommodate liquor substitutions, and, oh yeah, it’s smooth and delicious! Next time you’re looking to make a coffee cocktail after dinner, consider caffè corretto in place of the usual Irish coffee. It’s a nice change of pace and goes well with Italian cuisine.
Featured Image Credit: Andrej Safaric, Shutterstock