How To Drink In Spain — Weird & Wonderful Drinks

Cheers! Here’s how to drink like a local in Spain.

Get more tips on where to have a coffee or booze it up in Barcelona with Eat Guides: $4.99

By Nancy Todd

I know you know how to order a drink in a bar. But in the Spanish culture, drinks are different and we have expert advice for you. Bars serve excellent coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks, pastries, sandwiches, and tapas.  The Spanish culture offers some unusual drinks. In my neighborhood in Barcelona, there are 27 bars in a three block radius of my apartment. So many choices, so little time.

1. Absinthe - Sometimes referred to absenta, this was a favored drink by Lautrec, Picasso, Van Gogh, and the boys at the turn of the century. It is said to give a very unusual high sometimes with hallucinations. A light green or clear in color, the main ingredients were anise and wormwood. Reports from friends are to drink it slowly and only have one to see how you react. The drink today isn’t as strong. Don’t expect to paint a renown sunflower.

2. Bitter Kas – Non-alcoholic fizzy drink. With a sharp tang, it is bright red served with ice.

3. Cacaolat – A chocolate milk that comes in a bottle and is often microwaved. Really horrible.

An old bar in Barcelona, Spain.

Typical bar in Barcelona.

4. Clara – Beer mixed with lemonade. Sounds disgusting to me and people love it. You will see people in outdoor cafes drinking this in the summer.

5. Fresh Orange Juice –  OJ in a bar? Commonly sold, delicious and squeezed the minute you order it.

6. Hot Chocolate – A thick syrup like the consistency of chocolate pudding. Dark. Sweet. Wow! Fabulous! Drink with a spoon.

Bars can be dirty in Spain.

Is someone going to sweep this up?

7. Martini – In Spain, a martini is an aperitif that is yellowish or brown: aka vermouth. Slightly bitter, served sometimes with orange and always with ice. If you want a martini made in a shaker with gin, etc., then ask for an American Martini.

8. Tinto de Verano – A delicious cold summer drink. Part sparkling water, part red wine. I was first introduced to this drink in Granada when it was 114 degrees. Perfect!

In older bars, people throw napkins on the floor. Hang all night with one glass of wine and no one will rush you off. If you order a mixed drink, say a gin and tonic, you will get twice as much booze. Capped drinks like beer and water are opened in front of you.  Service is slow.  Forget your watch.  Salud.


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  1. Posted June 20, 2012 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    Nancy, I can’t believe clara sounds disgusting to you! Don’t you have shandy in the US? It’s lovely!

  2. admin
    Posted June 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I have never heard of shandy. However, I have heard of mojitos!

  3. Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I’m astonished you’ve never heard of shandy too! It’s always been very popular in Britain.

  4. admin
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Yeah, it’s not very popular in the USA. At least not where I am from. I actually like it!


  5. Posted June 6, 2013 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    Cacaolat microwaved? Never seen that happen… Any bar with a coffee machine will use the steam jet used to warm milk to warm up your cacaolat bottle. Much faster than microwave…

    Also, while I don’t like it much hot, I love it cold or room temperature. Just like any chocolate shake.

    And hey, Spanish is not my mother tongue, but I knew shandies existed. These two entries in the post were quite disappointing to me.

  6. admin
    Posted June 9, 2013 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    Thanks Marta. Some people love ‘claras’ and cacaolat…I actually DO like them! But Nancy is not a fan. I, for example, am not big on Bitter Kas or Fanta. ‘Para gustos, colores’ as they say.

    Glad you knew about Shandies…I didn’t until moving to Europe. Not a common drink where I am from in Oregon…..



  7. brian
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    In Britain Beer mixed with Lemonade is called a Shandy and it tastes very nice in Summer

  8. admin
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    Yes, some of us like it and some of us aren’t fans….

  9. admin
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    No Shandies for this Scoopette!

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