Corretto: The Italian coffee for holiday

Rome: There are two small-in-size but grand-in-strength drinks that Italians love to sip on, and here they combine to create quite the after-dinner treat.The corretto, which translates to ‘corrected espresso’ is a shot of espresso with a splash of grappa that brings about a warming buzz and is typically enjoyed in the evening (or in the morning for those on holiday).

“The caffè corretto is a shot of espresso mixed with a small amount of grappa, and it’s also known as an ‘espresso corretto’,” explains Robert Dessanti, wine and spirits importer at Euro Concepts.

“A caffè corretto is prepared by simply adding a few drops of grappa into an espresso shot, [or] the grappa can also be served in a shot alongside the coffee, allowing you to pour the quantity of grappa you desire. The concept is that the coffee is ‘corrected’ with a small quantity of grappa and the grappa is corrected with a small quantity of coffee.”

“The concept is that the coffee is ‘corrected’ with a small quantity of grappa”Davide Schiappapietra, a producer at SBS Italian, says a corretto can be enjoyed at home by Italians, but more often will be ordered in a bar. “[In Italy] the classic ubiquitous Italian coffee shops are always open, from early in the morning to – often – late in the evening.

They are always fully licensed for alcoholic beverages,” he says.Coffee with grappa: It’s up to an individual whether they’d like the grappa poured in or served alongside.Alongside a shot of espresso, grappa is often viewed as a daily tipple for many Italian families. This meant the marriage of grappa with espresso was a no-brainer and has made its way into popular culture.“In the area of Milan where I come from, young people usually drink a caffé corretto after dinner, before starting a night out. A stop at the ‘bar’ before heading to a pub, a party or a night club is fairly common,” says Schiappapietra.

“[Some]… might enjoy it during the day and even in the morning, although it is not always considered entirely socially acceptable behaviour, especially if too early in the day or during work breaks,” he says.But the fun doesn’t stop there – Dessanti says there are a number of other ways Italians get buzzed and relaxed at the same time using their signature spirit.”[Some]… might enjoy it during the day and even in the morning, although it is not always considered an entirely socially acceptable behaviour”

“The rexentin – also known as ‘raxentin’ in some places – is a tradition originating from the Italian region of Veneto. The word rexentin means ‘to rinse’ [and] it goes like this: after drinking an espresso, a small quantity of coffee remains in the coffee cup, which is then ‘cleaned’ with the grappa, and that is then drunk from the coffee cup.“Meanwhile, the ammazzacaffè [which translates to] ‘coffee killer’ is a small glass of grappa usually consumed after coffee, to dull its taste or the caffeine hit.

“In some northern Italian areas of Veneto and Trentino, this resentin custom is still popular, and this also happens in the region of Piedmont, where this tradition is called pusacaffè, with a literal translation of ‘push-coffee’,” Dessanti says.

While it’s important to choose a good coffee bean for good espresso, it’s equally as important to choose a quality grappa to match with your coffee. Dessanti warns that inexpensive brands tend to earn their nickname, ‘fire water’ and that premium grappa can have a range of different pleasing flavours.

Schiappapietra says you also don’t have to only choose grappa for your ammazzacaffè, and his preference is to have an Amaro, which is a herbal digestive spirit, on the side.“Usually in Australia, in many Italian restaurants, it is common to order an espresso served in a little coffee cup, with liquor or a “digestive” served in a shot glass on the side. Occasionally people might pour the spirit in the coffee cup, but it is a rather individual response,” he says.

If you want to try a corretto in Australia, you may have to go hunting as the drink isn’t commonly offered in many restaurants. It’s on the menu at Grappa in Leichardt, Sydney and at Café Corretto in Melbourne’s Italian hub, Carlton. However, if you have a nice bottle of grappa and an espresso machine at home, there’s no holding back.