It starts with high-quality espresso: Steam is forced through the packed grounds to produce a potent, concentrated coffee shot—single or double. This is topped with hot, frothy milk foam. To make a perfect cappuccino, “Don’t scald the milk,” B&B beverage director Kirk Peterson says. “And let the foam rest for a moment.” $5, Carnevino, in the Palazzo, Palazzo.com.
Caffé Latte/ Café con Leche/ Café au Lait
These are all variations on the theme of strong coffee with hot or steamed milk: espresso for an Italian caffé latte and either strong coffee or espresso for café con leche (in Spanish-speaking countries) and café au lait (French-speaking countries). Depending on where you are, this could be a milky breakfast staple or—especially in America—a canvas for fancy latte art. $4.50 single, $5 double, Makers & Finders, 1120 S. Main St., 702-586-8255, MakersAndFindersLV.com.
In the Cuban tradition, demerara sugar is added right to the grounds before the shot is pulled. “What you get is a really creamy, sweet, strong coffee,” Republic Café owner, chef Beni Velazquez, says. Similarly, a café Cubano is just the espresso, no sugar. $2.85 single, $3.15 double, Republic Café, opening in March, 2620 Regatta Dr., Suite 118, 702-925-8333, Facebook/LatinFishVegas.
A European-style cortado (a.k.a. Gibraltar, noisette)—like that as served at Sambalatte—is espresso that is “cut” (get it?) with 120-degree steamed milk, bringing out the milk’s silky sweetness. In Cuba and Miami (or Downtown’s Makers & Finders), you might also encounter the cortadito: a café Cubano usually cut with condensed milk. $3.50, Sambalatte Torrefazione, multiple locations, Sambalatte.com.
A single shot of espresso “corrected” with a little booze—usually grappa, brandy, sambuca or rum. “It’s very personal,” Italian beer distributor Massimo D’Arrigo says. Cost depends on your choice of spirit: correttos average $18 at Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare, for example, but can go up to $100 or more with a pricier booze selection. In Wynn, 702-770-3305, WynnLasVegas.com.
Ca Phe Sua Da
Vietnamese iced coffee is made using an individual metal drip filter placed over a glass. Coarse grounds are brewed and dripped over a generous serving of condensed milk, then poured over ice. Sweet and strong, and not bad with a little booze added, either! $3.75, District One Kitchen & Bar, 3400 S. Jones Blvd., Suite 8, 702-413-6868, DistrictOneLV.com.
Sure, it starts with a K, not a C, but super-strong Turkish coffee (see—there’s the C) is made by just barely boiling superfine grounds with sugar and sometimes spices three times, and letting the brew cool between boils before serving it unstrained in a tiny cup. $3.50, Maza Mediterranean Grill & Lounge, 2550 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-912-0050, MazaGrillLV.com.