Saturday, July 20, 2019


Call it fiesta or feria, it’s the Spanish way of partying. Fiestas go on for days. And nights. The party starts in the afternoon with the feria del día, when everyone throngs through the streets with music blaring everywhere, dancing in the plazas. Depending on the town, there might be horses and carriages with riders decked out in flouncy flamenco dresses and guys in wide-brimmed Córdoba hats. Everybody is drinking. How do they manage to survive a sun-drenched afternoon and still go out at night to party some more?

An icy pitcher of rebujitos--an easy-to-imbibe drink of Manzanilla and lemon soda.

The answer is to dilute the drinks with lots of fizzy soda. Some of Spain’s favorite summer refreshers are basically spritzers—wine with soda. The simplest is tinto de verano—“summer red.” It´s red wine, ice and lemony soda in a tall glass or goblet. Sort of sangría without the fruit. Tinto de verano even comes ready-mixed in cans.

But the favorite tipple for the ferias and romerías of Andalusia (southern Spain) is the rebujito—a combo of Manzanilla (dry fino Sherry) with citric soda such as 7Up or La Casera gaseosa.  (Gaseosa is artificially sweetened.) It can be mixed in quantity for a botellón—bring-your-own-bottle street parties. Or poured from an icy pitcher on the deck while the steaks are grilling.

Fresh mint, maybe a slice of lemon are the only additions to rebujito.

There are variations on the rebujito. Mix the soda with sweet cream Sherry and it’s a mulatita or with amontillado for a jerezano. Málaga feria goers might use vermouth instead of Sherry.

Kalimotxo--a mixed drink from the Basque Country can be found in cocktail bars in the U.S. 

In the Basque Country (northern Spain), the party drink is the kalimotxo, a mix of red wine and Coke. OK, that sounds just weird. But, give it a try. The Coke gets subsumed by the wine and the drink tastes a lot like sangría. The wine balances the sweetness of the cola. (If you have any left after a party, use it to marinate ribs for the barbecue—red wine plus sweet cola.)

What kind of glass to serve these drinks in? Take your pick! A tall, skinny high-ball glass or a short rocks glass. Plastic cups (reusable ones, of course) if your drinks are going to a beach picnic. Mix them in a pitcher (or bucket) or, individually, in glasses. Have plenty of ice.

Manzanilla Spritzer

Rebujitos make good sundowners, while the grill is heating.

Manzanilla is a version of dry fino Sherry with its own designation of origin, from Sanlucar de Barrameda. It’s best known as a superlative aperitif wine with tapas such as shrimp, ibérico ham and olives. It’s a fortified wine, with 15% alcohol, so fiesta revellers have taken to diluting it with lemon soda in order to keep drinking during a long afternoon (or night) of dancing and partying.

The basic recipe is one part Manzanilla and two parts citric soda such as La Casera gaseosa, 7Up or Sprite, plus ice and mint to garnish. Lemon slices or other fruit are optional.

Have the wine and soda chilled. Pour them over ice in a large pitcher (preferably clear glass) or in individual glasses.

Serves 4.

Ice cubes
2 cups chilled Manzanilla
4 cups chilled citric soda
Sprigs of fresh mint
Lemon slices (optional)

Fill a large pitcher with ice. Pour over the Manzanilla. Fill the pitcher with the soda and stir to mix. Top with mint sprigs. Add sliced lemon, if desired.

Cream Sherry Spritzer

Cool by the pool. Sweet cream Sherry, ice and soda water.

Cream Sherry is a dark gold, sweet dessert wine with 18% alcohol. Fizzy water turns it into a refreshing summer drink, the sort you might imbibe way before cocktail hour. Say, on a sunny afternoon beside the pool.

For 1 serving:
Fill a high-ball glass with cracked ice. Add sliced orange. Pour over 2 ounces (¼ cup) cream Sherry. Fill the glass with soda water (agua con gas).  Stir to mix.

Red Wine and Coke Spritzer

Fill glasses with ice. Add red wine and cola. 

The basic recipe is 1 part red wine and 1 part cola, plus lots of ice. Coke is traditional, but any cola can be used. Add sliced orange or other fruit. Use a tinto joven, a young red wine with no ageing time on oak, preferably from La Rioja. 

Fill a rocks glass or tumbler with ice. Add red wine and a slice of orange. Fill with Coke.

Coke adds fizz and sweetness to dry red wine.

A video recipe for kalimotxo in the New York Times.

More drinks—cocktails, sangrías, refreshers:

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