Top 12 Most Popular Spanish Drinks
Spanish gastronomy is fantastic and is talked about all around the world. The Iberian country has a great variety of dishes, desserts, flavors, and recipes that can satisfy even the most demanding palates. Wines are not far behind either, being one of the beverages par excellence in Spain.
However, delicacies such as sangria, tinto de verano or sidra have also made their way into the popularity of Spanish gastronomy. The typical cocktails of each region and the large number of drinks we can taste in the country encourage us to visit every corner, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.
An excellent way to tour the lands of Spain is by tasting its most popular drinks. At the same time, we can walk through its beautiful streets, enjoy its history, and be enchanted by its architecture. For this reason, we bring you a list of the twelve most popular Spanish drinks.
Wine is one of the most popular drinks in Spain, and the Iberian country has the largest cultivated area of vineyards in the world. The most tasteful wines born in Spain are made with many local grape varieties and expert techniques dating back to forgotten times. Do the Ancient Romans ring a bell?
Each region of Spain produces its own wine varieties with unique characteristics due to its climate, such as the famous Rioja wine. Many of them have designations of origin that are a guarantee of quality and taste. Wine in Spain is not just a beverage: it is an integral part of its culture and history.
Whether it is a red wine, white wine, or rosé wine, they are elaborated from the fermentation of grape must or grape juice. An example of a great Spanish wine is cava, which we will see below.
Cava is a high-quality sparkling and dry wine obtained by carrying out a second alcoholic fermentation in the bottle. It can be white or rosé. Cava is also called Spanish champagne but, in the 1970s, the producers decided to name it as we know it today. Its name finds its origin in the lands of Catalonia, specifically in the Cava region, and especially in San Sadurní de Noya (Vilafranca del Penedès).
Cava is a very popular wine throughout the country, and it has been for many years. Depending on the amount of sugar used in the preparation, we can find several variants, such as Brut, seco, or dulce. The first is one of the most famous nowadays.
The granizado is the perfect thirst-quenching drink on hot days, especially in summer. Yes, the north can also experience very high temperatures every now and then. You can find many stalls, bars, cafes, ice cream parlors, and horchaterías (we’ll see what a horchata is, bear with us) serving this delicacy.
This drink has crossed borders. It is very refreshing and is made of crushed ice and juice such as orange, mango, or lemon. Some variants also include some other nectar, essence, coffee, or even alcohol, forming a delicious cocktail.
If you walk around any Spanish city in summer, it is very difficult not to see this drink being served somewhere, and it is even more difficult to resist buying one!
4. Horchata de chufa
Another refreshing drink on this list is horchata de chufa, which is also drunk as a dessert after a succulent meal (yummy!). Horchata de chufa originates from Alboraya, in the Valencian Community. It is prepared with water, sugar, and wet or milled tigernuts. More ingredients can be added to enhance its flavor, such as cinnamon and the peel or rind of a lemon.
Unlike other places, horchata is not prepared with rice in Spain but with small tubers of a plant known as juncia avellanada. If you want to increase the pleasure, you can try fartones with your horchata, a type of sweet bread also from Valencia. The best time of the year to try horchata is, obviously, during the hot Spanish summer.
Sangría is popular in Spain and Latin America. It is a vibrant combination of red wine, fruit, honey or sugar, and liquor served cold after being left to stand for several hours. Its exact origin is unknown, although it is said that it was shepherds in Spain and Portugal during the 19th century who used the ingredients they had at hand, such as apples, to create it.
Generally, it is not considered a cocktail as such since it was not created by a bartender and does not have a specific recipe. Be that as it may, it is served in many bars, restaurants, and festivals all over the country. There are a significant number of variants. For example, in Asturias, cider, or sidra, (which we will also see next), can be used instead of red wine. The Catalan version, on the other hand, is prepared with cava.
You’ll see the sangría presented in a transparent pitcher, so you can see the fruit with which it is garnished, and it is accompanied with ice cubes. If you visit Spain someday, don’t forget to try this drink!
6. Sidra (cider)
Sidra, or cider, is another of the beverages that characterize Spain and give it its unique character, along with its gastronomy. The origin of sidra is not entirely clear. However, it is said to be an incredibly ancient drink dating back to Ancient Egypt and the Hebrews.
It is prepared with fermented apple juice and served from height, in a process called escanciar, a very typical sight in northern Spain. In fact, the places where most cider is produced within the Iberian Peninsula are the regions of the Basque Country and Asturias. The Asturians even use cider to make sangría, as mentioned above.
It is not a drink only found in Spain, of course. You can also find it in France, Germany, Argentina, Mexico, and many other places. There are several touristic and unique experiences related to cider, such as the Apple and Cider Route in Asturias that takes you to the Cider Museum and the llagares, the places where it is elaborated.
Kalimotxo (in the Basque language), also written as calimocho (in Spanish), is a drink you can order in many bars of the Basque Country, although it is maybe not as popular outside these lands. It consists of a mixture of red wine and Coca-Cola, but it can also include some lemon or blackberry liqueur. Kalimotxo is also popular in some Latin American countries, such as Argentina.
The drink was introduced in the 1920s but became popular in the 1970s. Its history is amazing. It is said that kalimotxo appeared as a way to cover up the taste of an unattractive wine at an event in Puerto Viejo de Algorta. The result was a tremendous success that ended up becoming famous. The term kali comes from the name of one of the event organizers, Kalimero, who was considered unattractive, and motxo is the Basque word for ugly. Hence the name!
8. Tinto de verano
What shall we say about the famous tinto de verano? As the name suggests, it is a mixture of red wine and lemonade (or lemon soda) served in a tall glass with ice—perfect for hot days. It is one of the drinks you will see the most often in bars and restaurants if you travel to Spain and is delicious accompanied with some tasty tapas. We don’t know if we are hungry or thirsty right now!
It is said that its origins date back to the mid-twentieth century in Cordoba in a place called La Venta de Vargas, which overlooked the road and where famous guitarists and singers passed by. In fact, the drink was colloquially called “a Vargas.” Later, it would become widespread throughout Spain, especially with the increase in tourism in the 1960s.
Orujo or aguardiente de orujo is a beverage distilled from the bagasse of the grape. It is tremendously popular in the northern part of the peninsula, especially in Galicia, Cantabria, León, and the north of Zamora. In fact, Galician orujo is so popular that it has its own denomination of origin.
It can be prepared in many ways and has many variants, such as aguardiente crema (orujo herb), aguardiante blanco, aguardiente de hierbas, aguardiente con café and té de los puertos or café de los puertos.
Risol is a typical drink from the province of Jaén, in Andalusia, specifically from the Villa de Canena, and is traditionally drunk in rural areas. Its recipe has been passed down from parents to children for countless generations.
The drink is prepared with water, sugar, apple, dry aniseed, soluble coffee, and pure chocolate. It contains five essential herbs: mint, lemon verbena, lemon balm, marjoram, and celery. All these ingredients are left to macerate for a period of 24 hours in a decanter and filtered repeatedly. Perfect for drinking very cold on holidays!
Queimada is a classic Galician liquor containing coffee beans, orange and lemon peel, and sugar. Before drinking it, it is set on fire, hence its name in Galician (“burnt”). The custom says that an incantation must be pronounced that works as a protection against evil spells and evil spirits.
Traditionally, queimada is prepared and served during Celtic New Year’s Eve or Samhain, which shares the same date as Halloween.
What would Spain be without its beer? Spanish beer is usually ordered by saying, “una caña, por favor,” and it will be served to you in a small glass. However, you can order a beer in a long glass in several places.
It is also common in some areas of Spain to order a beer and receive a tapa (small dish) with it, be it olives, nuts, popcorn, or even small plates of paella or fish.
Currently, the country’s beer production is very high, and you have a wide variety of brands at your disposal. For example, among the most traditional ones, you can find Estrella Galicia, San Miguel, Alhambra, and Mahou. It is also very common to find craft beers in many regions and towns that have been elaborated locally. La Salve in Bilbao, north of Spain, or Victoria in Malaga, in the south of the peninsula, are great examples. Our advice is to ask the waiter directly to see if they have any unusual or artisanal beers. You will be surprised!