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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

Say 'No' to Coconut Brandy
03 February 2021 @ 13:37



There's nothing quite like flopping into one's favourite armchair at the end of a hard day's work, kicking off one's shoes, switching on the telly for some mind-numbing rubbish and opening a nice bottle of honey rum. Or perhaps cinnamon gin. What say we all have a round of coconut brandy?

You get my point. There is almost no barman in Spain who knows how to make a cocktail, so instead, the marketing geniuses dream up these sweet and sticky mixtures in the forlorn hope that someone will not only buy a bottle of some glutinous krème, but will return, fresh-faced and smiling a few days later, and buy another.

The other day, I asked our local hostelier, an Italian, to make me a gin martini. I should have known better. I got served a large glass of Martini (e Bianco) with a cherry in it molto bene. Then he stood around, with an intrigued expression on his face, to watch me drink it. Could I have a glass of gin to go? I said.

Spain does have a cocktail (un coktel) which is the Cuba Libre. It's rum and coke. Known for short as 'una cubata', it has now come to mean any hootch with a fizzy mix. Gin and tonic, vodka and orangeade or even whisky and cola (uurrrp!). I have even been asked (I briefly barred) for a creme de menthe and lemon Fanta.

This may be why the Spanish are not generally known for public drunkenness - a couple of those babies and you just want to crawl off and die.

Actually, there's another cocktail that does the circuit, the Kalimotxo, which is an alarming mix of Coca Cola and vino tinto. It's popular in outdoor botellones, where you drinks what you gets, but otherwise it's rarely found.

There is an untold number of varieties of booze on the shelves behind a bar. Most may be for decoration - I assume you don't drink much Green Chartreuse or Triple Sec or Licor de Amor (it's purple - I think that's all you need to know) - while some of them are merely cheap imitations of better brands, which is why most brands of gin in Spain remind us of the Gorden's product. Which in turn explains the 'unfillable' tops to many of the brands here: bottles that often need a loud smack on their bottom when opened fresh. The downside of this being that one can easily spill a gout of grog onto the floor before adjusting one's aim.

So we come to a new drink, launched today in Cadiz. It comes from a Granada distiller and is called Licor de Crema de Turrón, a sort of Nut-Nougat Cream Liqueur. The photograph in today's paper showed a table with various half-filled glasses of the drink, a few bottles and whatever promotional material seemed appropriate, and a small number of youthful looking entrepreneurs with that slightly wistful look that people get when they know that - somewhere - they will have overlooked some small but vital point to their business plan.

I should just add here that I am grateful to my friends who had dropped by this past Christmas and kindly brought me a bottle or two of 'good cheer'. Indeed, admiring my stash this morning in the cupboard above the sink, I see I've got plenty of Tequila, four bottles of scotch and two of Spanish brandy which should keep me afloat through the year. No bottles of Sticky Toffee Pudding Rum (yes, it exists!), no Calisay, melon liquor or, thank goodness (and to my relief), any nut-nougat cream liqueur.

To which I raise my glass to the good taste of my friends, neighbours and readers.

Like 2


Doncolin said:
06 February 2021 @ 08:53

Very nice, Lenox.

TravelswithCharlie said:
09 February 2021 @ 10:50

We travel with the Savoy Cocktail book a copy of the 1930s original, Harry Craddock. If it is not in the book it doesn’t count. Some good stories of the development of wines and Port and other drinks we now take for granted. How to drink a cocktail, as quickly as possible replies Harry. Cheers.

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