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Archive for December 2nd, 2013

arriba,

abajo,

al centro,

pa dentro!

…would say the spanish when sharing a drink with friends. it is just one of the hispanic drinking rituals, a game, a phrase said before having the drinking which literally means up, down, to the centre, inside! and it is not the only tradition they ´serve´ with their many drinks specialties! apart from a wide range of famous wines (perhaps most notably the rioja and the ribera de duero), the spanish people have embedded in their traditions some other delicious drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, which have become must-tries while in spain.

 

sangria – the world-renowned king of spanish drinks, it has become synonymous with the spanish summer, the august heat, or one-of-those-spanish-things you have to try in spain. it is a mix of red wine (hence the name, which comes from ´sangre´, the spanish word for ´blood´) and lemon or orange juice, a variety of fruit and for a true kick a splash of brandy or rum, depending on where it has been prepared. a true summer must!

Sangria.jpg

 

cava – typical catalan drink from the penedes region. it is the most popular spanish sparkling wine, usually white or rosé. this drink is best appreciated during spanish celebrations, whether during a wedding, a birthday or the winter holidays.

cava by arlo j and by angela llopcava  cellary in penedes

 

horchata de chufa – some might say that while in valencia, there are two things you must try, one is the famous and highly-sought paella, the other one is the less-known milky-looking drink that is horchata. it is a non-alchoholic summer drink, made of water, sugar and chufas, which are valencian tigernuts. horchata is one of the main legacies left by the moors during their domination over the spanish territory, so by trying it you can be proud you have tasted some hundreds years of spanish culture!

horchata and fartons by dayer3 and by duncanhorchata is best served with another valencian treat, the sweet ´fartons´

 

cider – this is a typical low alcohol drink from the asturias region, with its own  protected designation of origin ´sidra de asturias´, a natural apple cider that has been produced here for centuries. the cider tradition is not as wide-spread here in spain as it is, for example, in the uk. here the cider has remained traditionally apple based, following the old asturian recipes, without mixing it with other fruit or artificial flavours.

not only in the north of spain, but throughout the country, you will be expected to enjoy a cider by pouring it the traditional way. this is done by holding the bottle horizontally high above your head and letting the drink pour slowly into the glass you are holding as low as you can. this tradition has a scientific reason behind it, as it allows the cider to oxygenate and become bubbly, but ultimately it is a fun way of drinking and it allows you to act and look quite silly doing it!

sidra by iván villar and by lluriPhotonot everybody looks this professional when pouring cider the traditional way!

 

rebujito – this is a typical sherry mix popular in the southern region of andalucia. it combines sherry, a mixture of sugar and soda, ice and mint. add a slice of orange and two straws to make it ideal for lovers, which is the way it was originally served! even though the idea of this cocktail is not 100% spanish, with roots in the english ´sherry cobbler´, it is now known in spain as the star of the andalucian festivals, starting with the famous april fair in seville.

rebujito by fran linerosflamenco dancers enjoying a rebujito during the april fair

 

orujo – a strong spirit made from the skins of grapes, known in other parts of the world as schnapps or marc. here in spain it is a type of ´aguardiente´, which shows how strong the drink is, since it can be translates as ´burning water´! the orujo is very popular in the north, in the region of cantabria (where it even has a festival, and where people take the art of tasting it very seriously) and moving a bit to the west, in galicia, where you will also find the ´orujo cream´. this is a traditional creamy mix of orujo, condensed milk, coffee and cocoa powder, with a touch of vanilla. if you are serving this drink to impress your galician friends, make sure you prepare it in advance, as it tastes better if you let it rest overnight.

orujo by aherrero and by jose.jhga chupito of aguardiente (a shot of this burning water) and its cousin, the orujo cream, which is typically home-made

 

´anís del mono´ – literally translated as the ´monkey´s anisette´, is another very popular liquor from badalona, in catalonia. this is a truly emblematic drink and brand in spain, everything from its history, its factory, its advertising and packaging, its founder and its story is legendary and somehow wrapped in a magical aura. more than 140 years old, the brand has allegedly used charles darwin as an inspiration for the image on the bottle, also it launched spain´s first lighted billboard in puerta del sol, in 1913. the bottle itself almost has a celebrity status, it has a statue in badalona, it has appeared in ´the godfather´ movie, it has been also painted by juan gris and exhibited in the reina sofia museum.

anis by lapendejajuan gris´ 1914 collage of the anis label, the famous bottle and the statue in badalona

 

drinking is, without doubt, a large tradition in the spanish life, whether at home with a meal, or out with friends, or for a special celebration, or friday after work… but their way of drinking is more a social activity than a meaningless act of drinking, it is a celebration of being alive and enjoying life, enjoying the presence of the dear ones, the quality of the food, the weather, or the never-ending discussions about the political and social events of the day…

spanish people consider drinking in moderation to be a healthy sign; because of that, when they cheer, they actually say health in spanish:

¡salud!

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