Cortado Culture

The Argentinian _cortado_is a creamy, caffeinated pick-me-up

By David Sax

Published on September 14, 2013

Buenos Aires coffee
Buenos Aires coffee

One of the great joys of lunch in Buenos Aires is what comes near the end—the creamy caffeinated pick-me-up known as the cortado. Served in a short ceramic mug, the cortado is essentially a shot of espresso with an equal amount of steamed milk. It's similar to the Italian macchiato, but it contains no dry foam on top. The cortado and its popular counterpart, the cafecito (espresso), come straight from the city's strong Italian heritage. And just as in Italy, no meal, meeting, or encounter is complete without one. When enjoyed at a restaurant or café, the cortado is almost always accompanied by a sweet of some form or another—mini alfajores (shortbread sandwiches of dulce de leche) or little Italian-style amaretto cookies. Cortados also come with a small glass of seltzer on the side to cleanse diners' coffee-soaked palates and provide a brisk, bubbly finale to a long lunch. By far, the most storied place to have a cortado is at Las Violetas, an 1884 pâtisserie and café in the city's Almagro neighborhood. Here, the cortado is served on silver platters by white-jacketed waiters in a Belle Époque—style dining room that, with its marble floors and stained-glass windows, is one of the city's most elegant gathering places.

Las Violetas
Av. Rivadavia 3899
Capital Federal Buenos Aires Argentina

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