Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This Is What I Drink : 10

Thursday March 18th: Tui, Spain

So, I was lucky enough to be invited to Spain on business, but it certainly felt like a vacation. And what better place to try new beverages? Day one included a lot of new ones, and if I miss any, I blame that on the fact that I didn't write in my non-digital beverage journal enough, but I'll do my best.

Lunch: Red Wine (vino tinto) and three different kinds of homemade Spanish liquors (explanations below).

Despite stepping off the plane extremely exhausted, we were excited to be swooped off to lunch courtesy of the wonderful co-directors of a wonderful film festival called play-doc. They took us to a fantastic restaurant called Jaqueyvi where were served a Tapas style feast of many things I've either never eaten or haven't eaten in a while including: cured ham, octopus, fried calamari, tuna salad, croquettes, and at least four different desserts, all amazing. While the food in Tui is worth a post of its own, I must get to the bevvies.

Although I heard about the white wine (Albarino specifically, made in Galicia), I was more in the mood to try the red at this point. I've never pretended to be much of a wine connoisseur and I won't try now, but I've always been just kind of a "well, I like this" kind of guy, and I liked this stuff. Most of the wine I had in Spain was very dry which is a quality I really like in wine. It's very smooth and didn't have much of any bad aftertaste like some red wine can have. Red wine is always a great accompaniment to a long meal with old and new friends, but I'll admit it probably helped add to the jet lag cobwebs. The coffee was supposed to shake those out, but first, we were told, we had to try the insane liquors!

I really wish I had pictures of all of these liquors but the standard of the "cafe liquor" will have to suffice for now. These liquors are made from the byproduct of the production of white wine. So basically, whatever happens to be left over from that process (skins, etc) is fermented for long enough to turn it into a clear alcohol solution. Afterward, different ingredients are added, coffee + water for the cafe licor beverage, whole milk to create a creamy version, and a blend of herbs (including thyme, honey and others) to create a deep yellow completely different version.

The most obvious by sight and taste is the cafe licor. It tastes and smells a lot like Kahlua, but more so like the better homemade version of Kahlua that my friend Vanessa had made before. At 30% alcohol it is certainly no slouch, but we were recommended to have it as a digestive after a meal, and it certainly suited that. Next to try was the creamy version made from whole milk. While a few beverages use milk as a mixer, it's strange to see to an alcohol with a pure milk taste. I wish I had gotten to try more of this because it was very good and very strange at the same time. Same goes for the herbal concoction which was in another ballpark compared to the others. The cafe and milk versions had been so sweet that the savory tastes of the mixed herbs really confused the taste buds. I couldn't quite distinguish the tastes, but it really wasn't like any kind of liquor I've ever had.

On a final note, there was one more version of this liquor we were encouraged NOT TO HAVE. They called it El Blanco, and they said not to try it. The mysterious clear liquid beckoned us to unscrew the cap, but that would have to wait for another day.

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