Barraquito is a delicious sweet coffee drink that’s often served in place of dessert. It originated in Tenerife, and is surprisingly simple to recreate at home.
Barraquito is the specialty coffee of Tenerife, and an authentic Barraquito recipe is one thing many visitors to the island want to take home with them. This delicious layered coffee drink is made using lemon, liqueur, condensed milk and coffee. For some the flavour encapsulates the Canary Islands, and recreating the drink at home recaptures that magical holiday mood.
Barraquito is the one drink to try while on holiday in the Canaries, but the good news is that you can also make this revered Tenerife coffee drink yourself at home. All you need is the popular Spanish Licor 43, plus some simple ingredients you may well already have.
This guide will take you through all you need to know about the history of the drink, how to order it correctly and of course how to make a Barraquito that tastes divine. If you want to indulge in the perfect Canarian pick-me-up, read on to discover all the secrets of the famous drink.
What is Barraquito?
Best served in the proper Barraquito coffee glasses, this delicious drink looks distinctive because it is layered. The traditional recipe includes layers of condensed milk, Licor 43, espresso coffee and frothy milk. It’s topped with a lemon peel garnish, plus a sprinkling of ground cinnamon.
So what is Licor 43? It’s a golden Spanish liqueur containing over 40 botanicals and herbs. The overriding flavours are warm vanilla and lively citrus, and it adds a unique flavour to the Barraquito. As well as a kick from the alcohol, of course.
Licor 43 is Spain’s best-known liqueur and is drunk in around 60 countries across the globe. Though it’s often associated with Tenerife, the Barraquito is available in all of the Canary Islands.
The Barraquito is thus layered from the bottom up with colours of cream from the condensed milk, the golden tones of the Licor 43, the deep brown espresso and the frothy white milk.
Before drinking your Barraquito, the layers create a pleasing visual effect. To drink it, you can grab a spoon to stir it all together with, melding the milk, sugar, coffee, lemon and alcohol to create a unique taste sensation.
The Barraquito is available in just about every Tenerife restaurant. The luscious concoction is often enjoyed in place of a dessert, thus ticking the after dinner coffee and sweet treat boxes in one heady hit.
Though many kinds of coffee are available across Europe, the Barraquito is not really available in any other part of Europe. It’s nothing like a latte, a cappuccino, a flat white or even a mocha.
You may well come across slightly different versions of the Barraquito while in Tenerife or another of the Canary Islands. In some spots, a scattering of lemon zest may be used, while in others a piece of lemon peel garnishes the glass instead. You can stir this in with a spoon before drinking, to ensure a fresh citrusy zing throughout the drink.
The origins of the much-loved sweet coffee drink from the Canary Islands are said to lie in the mid 20th century.
The story has it that a man called Sebastian Rubio first ordered the drink in the Imperial Bar. This restaurant is in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the island’s capital. Apparently Mr Rubio was known informally as Barraco, which literally translates from Portuguese as a shack or a shed.
As a regular at the eatery, Barraco began ordering a cortado with his meals. This is a coffee drink comprising equal quantities of espresso and steamed milk, which originated in mainland Spain. To accompany his cortado, he added Licor 43 and cinnamon. So the Barraquito was born – and named for its founder if the folklore is to be believed.
How to Order Barraquito Correctly
If you want to sample Barraquito with all of the original ingredients, then you should politely request a “Barraquito Completo” for the full experience.
If you cannot find Barraquito on the menu, then try looking for “Zaperoco” instead. In northern parts of Tenerife, this is the name sometimes given to the drink. Though the name differs, you should receive exactly the same thing. It’s just an alternative local name used by some restaurants.
When you want to order a Barraquito without the alcohol, then you should request a “Barraquito sin licor” or a “Barraquito sin alcohol”. Literally a Barraquito without liqueur or alcohol.
In fact this may not be referred to as a Barraquito at all, as without the liqueur it’s not, strictly speaking, a Barraquito. In this case, try ordering a “Leche y leche” or a “Leche leche.” However as this doesn’t have the lemon zest or cinnamon, it’s not really a Barraquito. The citrus flavour from the liqueur and lemon peel really is an essential and characteristic part of the drink.
If you want to recapture the holiday mood – even on a dull January day in northern Europe – why not try this authentic Barraquito recipe at home?
Just remember to stock up on Licor 43 beforehand unless you want an alcohol-free version. If you cannot get hold of Licor 43, you can use Tia Maria as a substitute. This is often used instead of Licor 43 for preparing Barraquito.
If you don’t have either of these liqueurs to hand, we do urge you to try this recipe anyway! Simply add any other vanilla or citrus flavoured liqueur to all the other Barraquito ingredients.
- 1-2 tablespoons condensed milk
- 1-2 tablespoons Licor 43 (or another suitable liqueur)
- 1 shot of espresso
- Frothed milk, to taste
- Ground cinnamon
- A piece of lemon peel (without the pith) or lemon zest
- Pour the condensed milk into a tall clear glass. Be careful not to touch the sides of the glass while pouring.
- Now layer the liqueur carefully on top by using the back of a spoon to pour it over the condensed milk layer. Next, add the espresso layer over the liqueur in the same way.
- Finish by carefully adding a layer of frothed milk.
- Dust the frothy milk topping with cinnamon and decorate the glass with lemon peel. Alternatively, add some lemon zest on top, in place of the lemon peel.
- When you are ready to drink your barraquito, stir the lemon peel and all the layers together with a spoon and mix well. Enjoy!
To explore Tenerife to the fullest and at your own pace, we highly recommend renting a car. Our favourite place for car rental is the RentalCars website. It allows you to compare different providers and pick the best deal. You also get the best protection and flexibility for booking terms.
We also recommend taking at least one guided tour. Our favourite place for booking tours in Tenerife is GetYourGuide.
Top 3 excursions on the island:
- A whale and dolphin watching (pick by location: Los Cristianos, Costa Adeje, Los Gigantes).
- Stargazing in Teide National Park
- Kayaking and Snorkeling with Turtles
The best hotels for families with kids (in our opinion):
Luxury: GF Victoria (Costa Adeje) or Bahia Principe Fantasia (Golf del Sur)
Mid-Range: Spring Hotel Bitácora (Playa de las Americas) or Iberostar Bouganville Playa (Costa Adeje)
Budget: GF Isabel (Costa Adeje) or Paradise Park Fun Lifestyle Hotel (Los Cristianos)
The best adults-only hotels:
Luxury: Iberostar Grand El Mirador (Costa Adeje) or Gran Melia Palacio de Isora (Alcalá)
Mid-Range: Tigotan Lovers & Friends (Playa de las Americas) or Iberostar Selection Sábila (Costa Adeje)
Budget: Barceló Santiago (Puerto de Santiago)
Top hotels for everyone:
Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton, Abama or Bahia del Duque (Costa Adeje)
Mid-Range: Hard Rock Hotel (Playa Paraiso) or Dreams Jardin Tropical Resort & Spa (Costa Adeje)
Budget: Alexandre Hotel Gala or Olé Tropical Tenerife (both Playa de las Americas)