The Two-Ingredient, Cinnamon-Scented Cocktail That's Becoming Popular Throughout San Francisco

San Francisco has always loved coffee cocktails. This is a city with many worthy riffs on espresso martinis and a longstanding history dating back to Irish coffee dating to the 1950s. 

A new, two-ingredient beverage with a cinnamon scent is beginning to appear on menus throughout San Francisco for those looking to switch up their coffee cocktail routines. If you haven’t already, meet the carajillo.

For those who do not know, the traditional version of the cocktail consists of just two ingredients: Licor 43 and espresso. Since its September 2023 opening, Holbrook House, a posh downtown destination, has served it on its menu. 

Mexican general manager and beverage director Hernan Martinez says he has been a longtime fan of carajillo. Martinez claims that carajillos are very common in Mexico and can be found almost anywhere.

Holbrook's offering is straightforward, with a 1:1 ratio of Licor 43 to Sightglass Coffee espresso. Martinez enjoys the carajillo because, aside from his personal connection to the beverage, it's a less sweet option for a coffee cocktail than something like an espresso martini. 

 Despite not being an amaro, the Licor 43 gives the carajillo a strong vanilla profile and a hint of herbal bitterness.

While there are a few other establishments in San Francisco that serve the traditional carajillo, such as the renowned Zuni Cafe and the California Mexican restaurant Copas on Market Street, 

which started offering the drink as an after-dinner option in April, some local mixologists have begun to innovate on the classic recipe.

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