LITTLE did I know when I joined The Olive Press that my assignments would include hosting a cocktail party for my co-workers.
This unexpected job perk was all in aid of trying out four traditional Spanish cocktails: kalimotxo, tinto de verano, sangria and Andalucia’s own sherry nice take on your maiden aunt’s favourite tipple, rebujito.
And since it’s no fun drinking alone, I naturally invited my work mates to sample the drinks with me, after office hours of course!
Three of the cocktails are quite straightforward, but there are myriad variations on sangria.
After scouring the Internet for recipes, I made up a cocktail of my own using white wine and peach liqueur instead of the more typical red wine and brandy.
I started preparing the sangria a few hours ahead of time, since it’s supposed to sit for at least two hours (some say as long as a few days) before serving, so the flavours can suffuse.
It was a doddle to make. I cut up the fruit and deposited it in a pitcher, drenched it in wine, liqueur and several heaped spoonfuls of sugar, then a quick stir and into the fridge it went.
When my sampling panel arrived, we immediately started in on the sangria. Unsurprisingly, this fruity, citrus concoction was the night’s biggest hit – white wine with knobs on! I opted for a dash of lemon Fanta in mine for an extra-refreshing touch.
Next up was the rebujito, a tonic and sherry mix served over ice at feria time and recently reported by my colleague Rob Horgan to be the cocktail of the summer.
I used Tio Pepe and, no offense to Rob but it was a bit dry for my taste. Most of us had a few sips and then left our glasses to fizz quietly on the table, much to Rob’s chagrin … providing a great excuse to make more, perhaps with a sweeter sherry, or lemonade instead of tonic.
Kalimotxo is an icon of Basque culture although it’s drunk in many other countries under different names including, worryingly, motorina (diesel fuel) in Romania and mata moscas (fly killer) in Argentina.
This super-simple cocktail made with red wine and Coca-Cola was more successful. I was a bit apprehensive, since I don’t much like Coca-Cola, but the wine balanced out the soft drink’s cloying sweetness.
We finished the night off with tinto de verano, a classic cocktail consisting of red wine, white Casera or lemon Fanta and a few slices of lemon or orange. Simple, refreshing and inoffensive, the tinto de verano was the perfect end to one of my most enjoyable assignments yet.
Better still, none of us paid for it with a resaca (hangover) next morning!
1 bottle white wine
1 bottle lemon Fanta (add to taste)
150 ml fruit liqueur (e.g. peach)
1 chopped nectarine
1 chopped apple
1 sliced lemon
½ sliced grapefruit
150 ml granulated sugar
Combine fruit, sugar, wine and liqueur in a large pitcher and stir. Chill for at least two hours, then stir well, crushing fruit to release flavor. Serve on the rocks, adding Fanta to taste.
½ bottle Tio Pepe
1 bottle tonic water
1 juiced lime
½ sliced lemon
Suggested ratio is one part Tio Pepe to two parts tonic water. Add lime juice and lemon slices and serve on the rocks.
1 bottle red wine
1 bottle Coca-Cola
One part red wine to one part Coca-Cola, served on the rocks.