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Licor 43 is a Spanish vanilla liqueur that’s worth adding to your collection! Here’s more about it and the best ways to use it in cocktails.

Licor 43

Here’s a mysterious sounding liqueur that might not sound essential to your liquor cabinet…until you taste it! Licor 43 is a golden-hued Spanish liqueur made with a secret blend of 43 herbs and spices. The flavor is absolutely unique, with notes of vanilla, cinnamon and orange peel. It’s incredible in coffee, and it makes a stellar mixed drink too. We got a bottle to make a Carajillo, and became instant converts. Here’s a little more about this unique liqueur and whether you should add it to your collection.

What is Licor 43?

Licor 43 is a bright yellow, vanilla flavored Spanish liqueur was invented in 1946 by the Zamora family, apparently based on an ancient recipe. It’s also known as Cuarenta Y Tres (43 in Spanish). The name comes from the 43 herbs and botanicals used to make it.

Licor 43 has grown to be the most popular liqueur in Spain, and it’s widely enjoyed throughout Europe. It’s also popular in Mexico, as it’s the signature ingredient in a Carajillo (spiked coffee).

What does Licor 43 taste like?

Licor 43 tastes sweet and aromatic, strongly of vanilla with notes of orange peel, cinnamon, and cocoa. It’s herbal with a very complex finish! It’s perfect in coffee and other mixed drinks.

How much alcohol is in Licor 43? It is 31% ABV (alcohol by volume), so it has a moderate alcohol content. Compare it to 40% ABV for spirits like whiskey, rum, vodka and gin.

Are there any substitutes? The closest substitute flavor-wise is Tuaca, an Italian vanilla liqueur with brandy. You also can substitute any vanilla-flavored liqueur. The brand Galliano sells a vanilla liqueur, or you can even use Galliano L’Autentico, the yellow vanilla liqueur used in the Harvey Wallbanger and other classic cocktails.

Why we like it

Licor 43 is vanilla-scented, complex and pairs perfectly with coffee. From the first sip, we were sold! It’s extraordinarily complex in flavor, and it’s so tasty we find ourselves dreaming up new ways to use it. In a word, it’s delicious. (Or, muy delicioso if you’re in Spain.)

How much does it cost?

Compared to other liquors, Licor 43 is mid-priced. It costs $20 to $25 per 750 ml bottle.

You can drink Licor 43 as a shot, mix it coffee (it pairs brilliantly!), or mix it into cocktails. Here are the top Licor 43 cocktails:

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Carajillo

Carajillo (Licor 43 Spiked Coffee)


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x

Description

Try this Carajillo recipe, a Mexican after dinner drink! The mix of bitter coffee and sweet vanilla notes of Licor 43 is perfection.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 ounces* espresso (or very strong coffee), cooled slightly
  • 1 ½ ounce Licor 43
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice)

Instructions

  1. Make the espresso.
  2. Add ice to lowball. Add the Licor 43 and stir. 
  3. Slowly pour the coffee over a bar spoon into the drink, which will settle on top. Serve immediately. 

Notes

*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Licor 43

More cocktail guides

Here are a few more guides to liqueurs, spirits and mixology:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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7 Comments

  1. There’s one drink cocktail u left out & it’s “cuarenta y tres con leche.” As the name implies, the drink consists of Licor 43 & milk. I’m not sure of the actual recipe measurements but I believe it’s either 1 or 2 ounces of the liqueur with milk. When I make it I always use 1 oz bc I like a smoother finish but it always taste stronger when I order it on the island (Puerto Rico). It’s silly, but it’s a drink I don’t usually order when I’m in the states. Just when I visit my ancestors. Along with Piña Coladas & Coquito. Enjoy!

    1. Love this, I was actually looking to see if I can find a variation on the Licor 43 con leche. I like to add cinnamon to mine. Hope to hear what anyone else adds to their 43 con leche. Wepa!

  2. Have you baked with the Licor 43? I received a bottle for Christmas. Your Carajillo cocktail recipe looks great! Then this month a nearby restaurant had this dessert with a wine dinner that I wasn’t able to attend: Carajillo Tart: Espresso, Licor 43, Dark Chocolate, Chantilly Cream and Toasted Almonds. I’ve been trying to work out if this was a chocolate tart with the coffee and liqueur in it, then served with the Chantilly Cream and Almonds on top? What do you think?

    1. That sounds great! I haven’t tried baking with alcohol but I bet it went into the batter. We might have to play with that idea!

      1. If I had to guess, I would expect it to be in the Chantilly Cream in place of another flavoring extract (like vanilla).