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Drinks you must try when on Ibiza and Formentera

Our third instalment, with great local beverages to try.

Following the first two parts of our series on the foods of Ibiza and Formentera, our mind now moves naturally to drink. If you believe as Euripedes did that "where there is no wine there is no love", then you have entered the Mediterranean imagination of which the White Isle is most definitely part.

Ibiza, like any other place that came from the ancient world, has had a long tradition with alcohol. From the homemade red wines and liqueurs adding a warm glow to a winter or summer night, to the brandy-infused coffees enjoyed for centuries by its fishermen to get them started in the morning, intoxicants are a welcome part of the culture.

Here we present to you the varied drinks of Ibiza. Salud!

If you would like to see the rest of our article series on Ibizan and Formenteran gastronomy, click on the links below and discover more about the islands' delicious culinary past and present.

PART 1 BREAKFAST
PART 2 MAIN MEALS


Wine

Viticulture was first introduced to Ibiza and Formentera around 600BC by the Phoenicians and islanders have been producing wine, usually for personal consumption, ever since. Grapes, typically native Monastrell and Malvasía, are grown all over the island of Ibiza but there is a higher concentration in the northern villages.

Take a drive out into the countryside and you will find yourself passing many private vineyards. Traditionally, smallholders produced young, fruity reds, high in tannins, and known locally as vi pagès (farmer's wine). For the connoisseur these wines might seem a little crude but after a couple of glasses and friendly chat with a grower, proud to display his handiwork, it is hard to be critical. Their consumption is a way of life in the countryside, especially enjoyed with a bowl of fried almonds, dried figs, or some bread and sobrasada.



The fine art of using a porron - without spilling


Visitors out of season might be lucky enough to catch 'La Festa des Vi Pagès', the San Mateo Wine Festival staged annually, in December, when the new wine is ready to drink. This wine tasting session, accompanied by a rock band or two and a typical torrada (barbecue), usually turns into one of the jolliest village fiestas of the year. Local growers compete for the annual titles and tasters fight the urge to have one too many porrons - the deadly wine gun of Spain!

There are few large-scale wine producers on the island and recent years have seen the commercial development of the wine industry in Ibiza. The Can Rich winery, near to San Antonio, planted its first vines in 1997 and harvested its first crop in 2001. Now its is the largest independent wine producer on the island, producing a wide range of organic reds, whites and rosés strictly from their own grape harvest. A visit to the winery makes a great lunchtime treat, sampling its wines accompanied by traditional Ibizan snacks.

Another bodega willing to open its doors to the keen visitor is Bodegas Can Maymó in San Mateo. It has been producing wines since 1995. Other producers, such as Ibizkus, scour the island for the best quality grapes from independent growers to create wine blends.



Tinto de verano, a cool, lighter drink ideal for hot days on the beach

Tinto de Verano - In summertime, the locals often consume their house reds with ice as Tinto de Verano; a refreshing mix of three parts gaseosa (a sweet soda), to one part wine.



Red or white, sangria is for sharing

Sangria - Ok, so not strictly an Ibizan speciality but sangria mixed with cava, instead of red wine, makes a great alternative for your summer lunch. Recipes vary but it is usually a concoction including Cointreau, brandy, banana liqueur, summer tropical fruits, orange juice and grenadine.


Liqueur


The local digestive, Hierbas Ibicencas

Hierbas - The undisputed taste of Ibiza is Hierbas Ibicencas. At some time, every visitor to Ibiza will be invited to a shot of hierbas after dinner in a restaurant. Opinion is usually divided on the issue of hierbas, split between the lovers and the haters. Or should we just call them "those yet to be convinced?" Many a diehard hater has eventually succumbed to its mysterious allure.

Hierbas is made from a base liquor of anise, infused with the aromas of a combination of up to 20 wild plants and herbs including; fennel, wormwood, sage, thyme, mint, camomile, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, juniper, spearmint, frigola (Mediterranean wild thyme) and orange and lemon leaves. It is best sipped, cold, in a glass of ice or chilled and downed in a shot glass.


Mari Mayans: the market leader in hierbas on Ibiza


Many country restaurants produce their own elaboration of hierbas, usually to a long-standing, secret family recipe. Always accept an offer for hierbas after dinner to help your food go down and to put a smile on your face. But, ask for hierbas casera if you would like to try the homemade variety.

While the Mari Mayans family nowadays dominates the commercial market for hierbas, some of our favourite alternative producers are Bar Anita in San Carlos, Can Rich winery and Sa Capella restaurant in San Antonio. Try them all to explore the range of flavours it is possible to create.



Made with wild thyme, Frigola

Frigola – Found only on Ibiza, this liqueur is distilled from the variety of Mediterranean wild thyme, which gives it its name. Also a digestive like hierbas it has a sweeter, slightly medicinal favour. The Mari Mayans family has been producing Frigola since 1880, to a closely guarded recipe. Mari Mayans also produce a very potent form of absinthe and their own premium gin, Ibz.


Coffee


A carajillo to your liking

Carajillo – a strong espresso with a big dash of your favourite spirits, often drunk for breakfast in the countryside before a day toiling on the land.



Ideal on a cold winter's day, Café Caleta

Café Caleta – a big favourite at winter family gatherings or fiestas. Coffee is warmed, in a large pan over an open fire, to which brandy, lemon and orange peel, cinnamon and plenty of sugar are added. Originally the breakfast of choice for fishermen before heading out to sea, this delicious drink can now also be found bottled by the Can Rich winery and drunk cold as a digestive. It makes a very tasty alternative to either hierbas or an after-dinner coffee.


Beer



Beer in many permutations

Beer in Ibiza is consumed in vast quantities, but usually from the famous brands from the mainland. However, ale pioneer Ibosim (named after the Phoenician name for Ibiza) produce a range of craft beers from its microbrewery in Port des Torrent.

Brewed by traditional methods, with the addition of local touches, Ibosim is attempting to educate islanders in the joys of real ales. Its bar is open six nights a week from 20:00 till midnight, so why not drop in and try some samples?


Ibiza's love for the hop culminates every autumn in the annual ‘Feria de la Cerveza' (beer festival) with 150 beers from around the world, this popular festival is a fun night out for the whole family. Great beer, good food (including genuine Würste and Würstchen), popular local DJs, live performances and children's entertainers - all set to an indie and rock soundtrack.

Remember to check out the other two parts in our culinary odyssey with our pieces on breakfasts and snacks and main meals.


For a great selection of places to eat to suit all tastes and budgets, head to our restaurant guide.

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