What is a Café Corretto?

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Café Corretto, a name that resonates with the rich Italian coffee culture, is a delightful blend of espresso and liquor. This drink, which translates to “corrected coffee,” has been warming the hearts and souls of Italians for decades. Let’s dive into the history, preparation, and variations of this iconic beverage.

A Brief Introduction to Café Corretto

Café Corretto is an Italian caffeinated alcoholic drink that combines the robust flavors of espresso with the warmth of liquor. Traditionally, grappa or brandy is used, but variations have emerged over the years, incorporating liquors like sambuca, amaretto, and even Irish whiskey.

The Historical Roots of Café Corretto

The inception of Café Corretto is believed to have taken place in the early 20th century, particularly in northern Italy where grappa enjoys immense popularity. The drink quickly became a favorite among Italian farmers, fishermen, and workers, serving as a source of warmth and energy during chilly mornings or before embarking on strenuous tasks.

How to make:


  • Espresso: The heart of the drink, a freshly brewed shot of espresso provides the foundational flavor.
  • Liquor: Grappa stands as the traditional choice, but alternatives like sambuca, brandy, amaretto, and others have found their way into the mix.
Grappa Is A Classic Italian Liquor Often Added To Espresso
Grappa is a classic Italian liquor often added to espresso


  1. Begin by brewing a shot of espresso, approximately 30mL, and pour it into a cup.
  2. Introduce around 5mL of your chosen liquor. The quantity can be adjusted based on personal preference.
  3. It’s essential to add the liquor just before sipping to retain the alcohol content, which might otherwise evaporate due to the hot coffee.

Some establishments prefer serving the espresso and liquor separately, allowing patrons to customize their drink to their liking.

How It’s Served

Option 1: Typically, a corretto is presented with the espresso in a small demitasse cup, alongside the selected liquor in a regular shot glass. It’s up to the individual to combine them.

Option 2: Alternatively, one can pour the liquor directly into the espresso shot and consume it right away.

A Bottle Of Grappa And A Shot Of Espresso
Café Corretto

Cultural Significance and Traditions

In Italy, Café Corretto is often enjoyed post-dinner or as a nightcap. The combination of coffee and alcohol is believed to aid digestion and provide a comforting warmth. Various regional variations have emerged, each with its unique twist on the classic. For instance, in Veneto, the “Rexentin” tradition involves rinsing the remaining espresso with liquor after a sip.

A World of Variations

From the Sambuca Corretto of southern Italy to the Amaretto Corretto of the north, regional variations abound. Some even incorporate chocolate syrup or cocoa powder, resulting in a delightful Mocha Corretto.

Café Corretto’s Global Cousins

The concept of blending coffee and alcohol isn’t unique to Italy. Around the world, similar concoctions exist:

  • Spain’s Carajillo combines coffee with rum or brandy.
  • France offers Café-calva, a blend of coffee and Calvados brandy.
  • Sweden’s Kaffekask merges coffee with aquavit.

In Conclusion

Café Corretto stands as a testament to Italy’s rich coffee culture, blending tradition with innovation. Whether you’re a coffee aficionado or a liquor enthusiast, this drink promises a unique experience that’s bound to leave an impression.

Avatar Of Kelsey Todd
With over two decades in the coffee industry, Kelsey is a seasoned professional barista with roots in Seattle and Santa Barbara. Accredited by The Coffee Association of America and a member of The Baristas Guild, he combines practical expertise with a profound understanding of coffee's history and cultural significance. Kelsey tries his best to balance family time with blogging time and fails miserably.