Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spain: Wild Living, Calimocho & Me

Today, my sister mentioned calimocho. Calimocho! That word brought me back a million years back, to my high school here in the Madrid neighborhood of Manoteras, to a time when I knew people who drank it. Calimocho, or kalimotxo, is a drink from the Basque country, popular all over Spain among young teenagers. Calimocho is made by mixing very cheap red wine and Coca-Cola, about half and half, plus ice. Some people also add a splash of berry liquor or other booze to the mix.

The red wine used is often from a box, and the Don Simon brand is a common one. Coca-Cola is best, but cheaper colas will also do. This is, first and foremost, a drink of economy. Some even say "the worse the wine, the better the calimocho." I have reservations about this. Usually, calimocho is prepared in the street, or in a park, so measurements don’t tend to be exact. Calimochos can be poured into a glass: add ice if you have it, and then pour wine up to half and then finish off with the cola. The traditional glassware you want to use is called a mini, a one-liter tall glass, which of course should be made out of plastic. Ice will make the bad wine less offensive. Another way, useful among those completely lacking in preparation, is to pour some coke out of the bottle and then add the wine from the box into the soda bottle, shake a little and drink, passing it around.

I was never a fan of calimocho, I tried it once or twice and it tasted awful. It may not have had enough ice. Several people from my high school sat around benches in the park right across from school between classes and drank litronas, one-liter bottles of cold beer that were shared. I think calimochos were drunk later in the day.

Today I made two calimochos, one for me and one for Bryan. These were not the teenage version: I used real glasses and decent wine from a bottle. I set out two glasses, added three ice cubes to each, filled the glasses half way with wine (a light red wine from Sardinia I have around the house) and then filled them all the way up with coke. I stirred the glasses and waited a little for the calimocho to cool down. Then we tasted them. I could only taste the coke, really. It was like coke that was a little less sweet. Then, as an experiment, I added a splash of the red plum liqueur my dad makes. It tasted about the same, no real improvement (although if the wine had been worse, it may have helped to make it sweeter). A slice of lemon may have helped.

Bryan drank his whole calimocho, I did not. He liked it. Although it was not bad, it was not to my taste. Give me a gin and tonic any day. Or a glass of undiluted wine (from a glass bottle, please).

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