Kalimotxo, also spelled calimocho, is a Basque wine and coca cola confection that has recently started getting a lot of attention. You may have read about it in the New York Times or heard about it among hipsters. Pepsi is now selling it as some sort of fancy beverage and Spaniards are hot about it.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention and kalimotxo is no exception. This drink is relatively new, having come to light in the summer of 1972. Before that kalimotxo was a drink found around Bilbao and was called a Rioja Libre because it mixed wine with coke instead of rum and coke like a Cuba Libre. Rioja because it is a region famous for it’s red wine. However, it´s origins go back even further to a group of Italian immigrants in the Basque country who mixed their chianti wine with coca cola so they could party all night without getting too drunk.
In August of 1972 when the organizers of a summer festival in Algorta, a small town in northern Spain, discovered the wine they were going to sell tasted awful, they were desperate to find a way to cover that up. Enter the Rioja Libre not known by that name but also popular with local teens as an easy and cheap party beverage. Among area teens it was known as a Kalimero. The organizers didn’t like that name so they fused it with the Basque ending motxo which means ugly to create the name kalimotxo.
As a true blue wine lover and no fan of coke I was highly suspicious of this concoction and even made fun of it, that is until I tried it. It is surprisingly refreshing and can add the right the touch of sweet to an acidic or very young red wine. And just like the Italians, I discovered it is the perfect drink for all night dance parties and festivals. You don’t have to buy it from Pepsi, you probably already have the ingredients handy in your refrigerator. However if you insist on something fancy just add lemon or an orange slice. Why not make a big bowl and serve it at your next party! When you do be sure to play the famous Spanish drinking song Kalimotxo by Porterras.
If you want to learn more come join me for this Saturday, 29 April for Spanish Wine 101: Beyond Ribera and Rioja in collaboration with Eat Out Madrid and Cafe Di Vino where we will be demystifying Spanish wine culture one drink at a time. Space is limited get tickets here.
What other Spanish drinks do you know and love?