Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Say 'No' to Egg Nog
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 shite and opening a nice bottle of honey rum. Or perhaps cinnamon brandy. What say we all have a round of coconut nasty?
You get my point. There is almost no barman in Spain who knows how to make a cocktail, so instead, they dream up these sweet and sticky mixtures in the forlorn hope that someone will not only buy a bottle of some yellowish and glutinous krème, but will return, fresh-faced and smiling a few days later, and buy another.
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 now means 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 known for public drunkenness - a couple of those babies and you just want to crawl off and die.
So 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 explains the 'unfillable' tops to the bottles: which often need a smack on the bottom when opened fresh. You really don't need a shot of sticky coffee cream on your cuff.
So we come to a new drink, launched today in Cadiz. It comes from a Granada destiller 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 may have overlooked some small but vital point to their business plan.
I should just add here that I am grateful to my friends who have gathered round at this festive season and have kindly brought me a Christmas bottle or two of 'good cheer'. So far (and there's still a few days to go) I've been given four bottles of scotch and two of brandy. No 'hierbas' (lemony aguardiente which will lift your head off) , no Calisay, melon liquor or, thank goodness (and fingers crossed) nut-nougat cream liqueur.
To which I raise my glass to the good taste of my friends, neighbours and readers.