Barraquito: A Layered and Liquored Coffee Drink from the Canary Islands

We’re traveling to the Canary Islands for our coffee drink this morning – to sip on a boozy barraquito!

A warm and generally low-ABV beverage, barraquito is a specialty cocktail of Tenerife, the largest island of the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago located off the coast of northwestern Africa.

Generally made with sweetened condensed milk, Spanish liqueur, strong coffee or espresso, and foamed milk, the final garnishes often include a dash of ground cinnamon and a piece of lemon peel.

Horizontal image of two shooters filled with a layered espresso beverage topped with frothed milk, cinnamon, and lemon peel.

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When it is made with a gentle hand, the visual presentation is a beauty! Carefully assembled components yield neat, clean layers you can briefly admire through a clear glass before mixing and drinking.

Local lore attributes the origin of this beverage to a man named Sebastián Barraco Rubio, a regular bar patron of Bar Imperial in Tenerife.

Nicknamed Barraquito as a friendly term of endearment amongst his bar mates, Sebastian would often order the same concoction of ingredients to go along with his coffee during his visits to the bar: a mix of condensed milk, Licor 43, lemon peel, and cinnamon.

Vertical image of two shooters filled with a layered espresso beverage topped with frothed milk, cinnamon, and lemon peel.

Because his standing order became such an expected norm, the bar eventually named the cocktail after him, and continued to serve it publicly to a growing number of interested patrons.

Like most cocktails, you will find subtle variations with the final assembly, as well as the ratios of ingredients. It can also be served in larger mugs or smaller glassware.

In this recipe, we serve a smaller version that’s ideal to begin a day of lounging, or to enjoy as a digestif after a relaxing dinner.

Vertical top-down image of two beverages topped with frothed milk, cinnamon, and lemon rind on a marble counter next to a yellow towel.

Produced in Cartagena, Spain, Licor 43 is the preferred choice of liqueur for barraquito. Gorgeously golden in color, the recipe is a secret infusion of 43 assorted Mediterranean citrus fruits and botanicals.

While most of the ingredients are common to find in grocery stores, you’ll need to purchase the liqueur from a specialty wine and spirits retailer.

Vertical image of two small shooters filled with a layer espresso drink topped with frothed milk and cinnamon.

If Licor 43 is unavailable, you can still enjoy the essence of this beverage with a suitable replacement – use an equal amount of your favorite brandy, cognac, or spiced rum instead.

Start, or end, the day with a zesty Spanish specialty – head to the recipe now!

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Horizontal image of two shooters filled with a layered espresso beverage topped with frothed milk, cinnamon, and lemon peel.

Tenerife Barraquito


  • Author: Nikki Cervone
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 small drinks 1x

Description

Barraquito is a Tenerife cocktail from the Canary Islands, featuring beautiful layers of coffee, liqueur, and milk.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 teaspoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon Licor 43 Original
  • 1/4 cup freshly brewed strong hot coffee or espresso
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, warmed and lightly frothed
  • Ground cinnamon, for garnish
  • Two small lemon peels, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Divide the sweetened condensed milk, placing 1 teaspoon in each bottom of two 2-ounce, shooter-sized glasses.
  2. Gently pour half of the Licor 43 over the sweetened condensed milk in one glass. Repeat with the remaining liqueur in the other glass.
  3. Using the back of a small spoon, gently pour half of the coffee over the liqueur in one glass. Repeat with the remaining coffee in the other glass.
  4. Using the back of the same spoon, gently pour half of the frothed milk over the coffee in one glass until it reaches the top of the glass. Repeat with the remaining milk in the other glass. You may not need to use all the frothed milk.
  5. Lightly sprinkle some cinnamon on top of the frothed milk in both glasses, and gently rest a lemon peel on the rim of both glasses.
  6. Serve immediately, using a small spoon to mix all the layers together before drinking.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Coffee
  • Method: Stovetop/Coffee Maker
  • Cuisine: Cocktail

Keywords: Tenerife, Canary Islands, barraquito

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep

Set out two 2-ounce clear glass shooters – you want to be able to see the layers you build, so choose transparent glassware.

Horizontal image of assorted ingredients measured in bowls.

A taller shot glass works well for this particular assembly, as the layers will be thicker and more pronounced than a shorter, squatter option. Available in packs of 12 on Amazon, Yuleer sells both a wide-mouth set and a straight set of 2-ounce shot glasses that will be perfect for this recipe.

Prepare your appliance for making strong coffee or espresso, using the appropriate amount of water to brew about 1/4 cup total.

Fresh is best! Measure and grind the amount of whole beans recommended for your appliance to create a strong brew. Feel free to use decaf coffee, if you don’t want the jittery buzz.

Measure out the sweetened condensed and whole milk, as well as the liqueur. Set out the ground cinnamon.

Use a vegetable peeler to remove two small strips of peel from a lemon.

Step 2 – Brew Coffee

Brew your coffee or espresso, according to your appliance’s directions.

Horizontal image of hot coffee in a liquid measuring cup.

I like transferring the coffee to a liquid measuring cup, or some other small vessel with a spout. This makes it easier to pour when you’re assembling.

Step 3 – Warm and Froth the Milk

As the coffee is brewing, warm and froth the milk. This is easy to do on the stovetop in just a minute or two.

Horizontal image of frothed milk in a pot.

Place the milk in a small saucepot, and warm just until it starts to gently steam without boiling. Immediately remove the pot from the heat, and froth it for a few seconds with a handheld frothing wand.

Similar to the brewed coffee, I prefer transferring the liquid to a spouted cup for clean and easy pouring.

Step 4 – Build the Layers

For quickest and cleanest assembly, set your station: in a row, set out the sweetened condensed milk, the liqueur, the brewed coffee, and the foam along with a small, metal spoon. Place the two shooters directly in front of you, and the cinnamon and lemon peel to the side.

Horizontal image of preparing the layers of a small Tenerife coffee beverage.

Place 1 teaspoon of sweetened condensed milk in the bottom of each shot glass. Stay neat here to keep the layers clean and defined, and try not to smear anything on the sides of the shooters.

Horizontal image of preparing the layers of a small Tenerife coffee beverage.

Gently pour half a tablespoon of the liqueur over the first layer in one shooter. Repeat with the remaining liqueur in the other shooter. The liqueur will float on top of the bottom layer.

Horizontal image of preparing the layers of a small Tenerife coffee beverage.

Using the back of a small spoon, gently pour half of the coffee over the liqueur in one glass. Repeat with the remaining coffee in the other glass. This technique helps the layers to form a neat layer, rather than mixing together.

Horizontal image of preparing the layers of a small Tenerife coffee beverage.

Using the back of the same spoon, gently pour half of the frothed milk over the coffee in one glass. Repeat with the remaining foam in the other glass.

You may not need to use all this liquid – just fill to the rim.

Step 5 – Garnish

Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of the foam in each shooter.

Horizontal image of two shooters filled with a layered espresso beverage topped with frothed milk, cinnamon, and lemon peel.

Gently place one peel of lemon on the rim of each shooter.

Step 6 – Serve

Serve immediately while still warm. But wait just a second… you still have one more step remaining before drinking!

Horizontal image of mixing the layers of a small coffee cocktail.

First, admire the beautiful layers you meticulously and patiently created. Then, drop the lemon peel into the drink and stir everything together for a few seconds with a small spoon to equally distribute all of the ingredients.

Sip and enjoy!

Serve in Style

A little extra flair goes a long way to serve your cocktail in style!

For a pretty cinnamon garnish on top, seek some creative inspiration from our article on how to decorate cupcakes without frosting.

Partially cover the foam on top with your choice of stencil. Lightly dust the exposed foam with the ground cinnamon. Once you remove the stencil, you’ll be left with a pretty design on top.

Play with the lemon peel, as well – twist it and partially slice it to create a slit you can then use to prop it upright on the rim.

Horizontal image of two shooters filled with an espresso drink topped with frothed milk and garnished with cinnamon and lemon peel.

How will you add some more pizzazz to your coffee cocktail? Ideas, please! Leave a message below with your pretty presentation suggestions.

And if you love the concept of combining a little alcohol with your java, check out our other liquored coffee drinks!

Lemon provides a touch of its essential oils to subtly brighten and flavor this drink. Learn how to use the power of fresh lemon in even more beverages. When you’re feeling parched, imbibe in these three recipes next:

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published June 7, 2015 by Nina-Kristin Isensee. Last updated January 27, 2024.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

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