Cafe Royale


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Introduction to the Cafe Royale

Welcome to the world of the Cafe Royale, a cocktail that marries the robustness of coffee with the velvety touch of brandy. This classic concoction is not just a drink; it’s an experience that transports you to the heart of after-dinner indulgence. If you’re a fan of rich, aromatic flavors with a hint of sweetness, the Cafe Royale is your perfect nightcap.

Originating from the sophisticated salons of Europe, the Cafe Royale has stood the test of time. Its elegant presentation and complex flavor profile make it a timeless choice for those special evenings. Let’s dive into the layers that make up this beloved classic.

Whether you’re a cocktail aficionado or a curious newcomer, the Cafe Royale is sure to captivate your senses. Read on to discover the secrets behind this hot cocktail’s allure and how to craft it to perfection.

Key Facts About the Cafe Royale

  • Alcohol Volume: Approximately 14% ABV
  • Calories: Approximately 150 kcal
  • Preferred Glass: Heat-proof coffee glass or mug
  • Typical Garnish: Freshly whipped cream

Interesting Facts about the Cafe Royale

The Cafe Royale isn’t just a drink; it’s a spectacle. The act of igniting the brandy is a nod to the dramatic flair of classic mixology. This cocktail also offers versatility, easily transforming into a non-alcoholic treat with a simple substitution. Lastly, the Cafe Royale is a testament to the art of layering, with each ingredient adding a distinct note to the symphony of flavors.

Cafe Royale Cocktail Preparation

Tasting Notes on the Cafe Royale

The Cafe Royale is a symphony of flavors, with the boldness of coffee at its core. The brandy adds a smooth, oaky undertone, while the caramelized sugar introduces a hint of vanilla. This cocktail is a favorite among those who appreciate a sophisticated, warming drink.

Perfect for after-dinner relaxation, the Cafe Royale is a classic digestif. Its comforting warmth makes it ideal for cold evenings or as a festive treat during the holiday season. Coffee lovers and brandy enthusiasts alike will find this cocktail irresistible.

History of the Cafe Royale

The Cafe Royale’s origins are steeped in history, tracing back to European traditions of after-dinner drinking. It was during the 19th century that this cocktail began to gain popularity, often served in the grand cafes and restaurants of Paris and Vienna.

As the drink crossed the Atlantic, it found a new home in the speakeasies of Prohibition-era America. Here, it was embraced for its elegance and the way it seamlessly blended into the burgeoning cocktail culture.

Through the years, the Cafe Royale has maintained its status as a beloved classic. Its rich history is a testament to its timeless appeal and the enduring love for coffee and brandy.

Cafe Royale Ingredients

  • Sugar Cube: 4 grams / 0.14 ounces – Adds sweetness and, when caramelized, a rich depth.
  • Brandy: 30 ml / 1 ounce – Provides a robust, woody base to the cocktail.
  • Hot Coffee: 240 ml / 1 cup – The heart of the drink, offering a strong, aromatic foundation.
  • Whipped Cream: For garnish – Introduces a creamy, luxurious texture.

Did you know? The Cafe Royale’s signature flame not only captivates onlookers but also enhances the flavor by caramelizing the sugar.

Cafe Royale Cocktail

Cafe Royale Method

Preparing the Glass

Start by selecting the right glass – a heat-proof coffee glass or mug is essential. This ensures the drink stays warm and is safe to handle during the flaming process.

Caramelizing the Sugar

Place the sugar cube in the glass. Pour the brandy over it, ensuring the cube is fully soaked. This step is crucial for achieving the right flavor balance.

Igniting the Brandy

Using a long match or lighter, carefully ignite the brandy. Allow it to burn for a few seconds. This not only caramelizes the sugar but also adds a theatrical element to the presentation.

Extinguishing the Flame

Pour the hot coffee over the brandy and sugar cube to extinguish the flame. The coffee should fill the glass, blending with the brandy and melted sugar.

Adding the Cream

Float the whipped cream on top of the coffee by gently pouring it over the back of a spoon. This creates a distinct, creamy layer that is both visually appealing and delicious.

Serving the Cocktail

Present the Cafe Royale immediately, advising guests to stir the cream into the coffee before sipping to enjoy the full range of flavors.

Serving Suggestion for the Cafe Royale

The Cafe Royale demands a heat-proof coffee glass or mug for both practicality and tradition. The glass should be sturdy enough to withstand the heat of the flaming brandy and hot coffee.

The freshly whipped cream garnish is more than just a topping; it’s an integral part of the drink’s identity. It should be whipped to soft peaks and gently floated on top to create a smooth, inviting layer.

Elevating the Cafe Royale

  • Quality Ingredients: Use freshly brewed, high-quality coffee and a premium brandy to enhance the drink’s flavor profile.
  • Perfect Timing: Caramelize the sugar just enough to add flavor without burning it, which requires precise timing.
  • Whipped Cream Technique: Perfect the art of floating the cream by using a chilled spoon and pouring gently to maintain distinct layers.

Finished Cafe Royale Cocktail

Substitutions and Alternatives for the Cafe Royale

If brandy isn’t your spirit of choice, consider using whiskey for a different twist. For a non-alcoholic version, a vanilla-flavored sugar cube can mimic the complexity of the brandy.

Similar cocktails include the Irish Coffee, which uses whiskey, and the French Connection, which also features brandy. Both share the Cafe Royale’s warm, inviting character.

Add a Twist to the Cafe Royale

Experiment with flavored brandies or infuse your sugar cubes with spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. These subtle changes can add a new dimension to the classic recipe.

Consider using espresso for a stronger coffee flavor or adding a chocolate liqueur for a mocha-inspired variant. These twists cater to different palates and occasions.

Preferred Liquors for the Cafe Royale

For the best Cafe Royale, opt for a VSOP or XO brandy. These aged varieties offer the depth and smoothness that elevate the cocktail.

Brands like Hennessy or Remy Martin are known for their quality and are mixologist favorites for crafting this drink.

Similar Cocktails to the Cafe Royale

If the Cafe Royale has piqued your interest, you might also enjoy the Spanish Coffee, with its use of liqueur and coffee, or the Brandy Alexander, which offers a creamy, dessert-like experience.

Both cocktails share the Cafe Royale’s spirit-forward nature and are perfect for savoring after a meal.

Food Pairings to go with the Cafe Royale

Classic pairings include chocolate desserts, which complement the cocktail’s richness. For a savory twist, try pairing with aged cheeses or nuts.

For something unconventional, consider spiced or caramelized desserts that echo the cocktail’s caramel notes.

Cafe Royale FAQs

Can I use any type of coffee? Yes, but a freshly brewed, strong coffee is recommended for the best flavor.

Is it safe to flame the brandy? Yes, as long as you use a heat-proof glass and follow safety precautions.

Can I make a Cafe Royale without alcohol? Absolutely, use a vanilla-flavored sugar cube to retain the flavor profile.

What’s the best brandy to use? Aged brandies like VSOP or XO are ideal for their smoothness and complexity.

How do I achieve the perfect cream float? Use a chilled spoon and pour the cream gently to maintain the layers.

Cafe Royale_001

Cafe Royale

The Cafe Royale is a classic coffee-based cocktail that combines the warmth of coffee with the rich sweetness of brandy and a hint of vanilla from the sugar cube. It's a perfect after-dinner drink that's sure to impress with its elegant presentation and complex flavors.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Calories 150 kcal


  • Heat-proof coffee glass or mug
  • Long match or lighter
  • Spoon for floating cream


  • 1 cube sugar (4 grams / 0.14 ounces)
  • 1 ounce brandy (30 ml)
  • 1 cup hot, freshly brewed coffee (240 ml)
  • Freshly whipped cream for garnish


  • Place the sugar cube in a heat-proof coffee glass or mug.
  • Pour the brandy over the sugar cube.
  • Ignite the brandy with a long match or lighter, and let it burn for a few seconds to caramelize the sugar slightly.
  • Extinguish the flame by pouring the hot coffee over the brandy and sugar cube, filling the glass.
  • Gently float the whipped cream on top of the coffee by pouring it over the back of a spoon to create a layer.
  • Serve immediately, instructing guests to stir the cream into the coffee before drinking.


For a non-alcoholic version, omit the brandy and use a vanilla-flavored sugar cube for a similar flavor profile.
Keyword After-Dinner Drink, brandy, Cafe Royale, Classic Cocktail, coffee, Digestif, hot cocktail, Sugar Cube, Vanilla

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