The historical records say that the origin of the carajillo quite possibly goes back to distant overseas lands, specifically to the island of Cuba, where Spain fought a war in the late 19th century in an effort to hold onto its last colonial territories. The soldiers of the mother country, far from their homes, tried to work up the courage ("coraje" in Spanish) to fight by spicing up their coffees with the brandy they got from Spain. Due to supply problems, this brandy was gradually replaced by the very abundant Caribbean rum. So, as luck would have it, this delightful drink arose from an armed conflict.
Today, the carajillo is wildly popular in Valencia among those who like to liven up their coffee with a dash of the "water of life" and "fix the world" during lively after-meal discussions. There are as many carjillos as there are spirits that can pair with coffee: brandy, aniseed, rum, whiskey, and many others.
Cremaet, the king of kings
But as with almost everything else, Valencia and its people are committed to excellence, especially when it comes to food. Because of this, lovers of fine food and drink (always in adequate quantities) wouldn't stop until the traditional carajillo of military origins was elevated to its rightful place. And thus was created the cremaet, the drink served to top off the world famous Valencian esmorzaret.
Making it requires a steady hand, care and devotion. To take the edge off the alcohol, it's mixed with sugar, or honey if you have a sweet tooth, some roasted coffee beans, a cinnamon stick and a lemon (or orange) peel. The delicate mix is ignited to lower its alcohol content and make it tastier and softer. Last but not least, the equivalent of what the Italians would call a espresso is served in a short glass or clay pot.
The result is a unique elixir that beckons you to try it again. Don't leave Valencia without trying a cremaet! Or you can opt for a café bombón, coffee and condensed milk, which can sometimes also have a touch of rum or the like.
Where to try one
Although the cremaet is easy to find in bars and some restaurants throughout the city, it's important to track down the places that specialize in esmorzarets if you want to try a proper cremaet. Here is a list of places we can recommend for a very enjoyable experience:
Central Bar (Mercado Central), Gastro Trinquet de Pelayo (Pelayo, 6), Bar Cremaet (Avinguda del Port, 20), Bar Mistela (Riu Nervión, 11), Bar Marvi (Santos Just i Pastor, 14), El Trocito del Medio (Blanes, 1), La Pascuala (Dr. Lluch, 299), Casa Guillermo (Progrés, 15), La Bernarda (Cobertis de Sant Tomás, 7), Bar Rojas Clemente (Plaza Rojas Clemente) and many more. Drink up!