My love affair with Spain began on a language exchange to Madrid. From a boring suburban town near Watford, suddenly I was in the middle of one of the most exciting cities in the world and at 16* allowed to drink in bars and clubs. As you can imagine, I had a hell of a time and my Spanish improved drastically. Who knew learning could be so much fun? Since then I’ve been back many times. Whether it’s to Barcelona, Jerez or the Basque country, I always get a little thrill at arriving in Spain.

Gonzalez Byass bodega in Jerez

Gonzalez Byass bodega in Jerez

Spain is a drinks superpower

One of the best things about the country is the food. Especially in the south, there are still places which will bring you a plate of snacks to eat alongside your drink. The Spanish know how to drink too, big generous measures, low prices and everybody seems to be having a wonderful time. Like Britain and France, Spain is a drinks superpower. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed wines from Rioja, fizz from Cava, and crisp lagers served very cold in little measures called cañas. I’ve even ordered a Whisky DYC (pronounced ‘dick’ – the bestselling Spanish whisky brand) with a straight face. 

But the drinks below are the ones I most associate with Spain. Whether you’re in Ibiza, Majorca, Madrid or Barcelona, these three never fail to hit the spot. 

Spanish drinks Gin Tonica

The Gin Tonica

Picture the scene: a bar in Barcelona in the mid ‘90s, I’ve just ordered a Gin Tonica. The barman fills a tall Collins glass with ice, then free pours Larios almost to the top, adds a slice of lime, adds a splash of tonic on the side, and I marvel as the UV light turns the drink blue (something to do with the quinine) while ‘Ritmo de La Noche’ bangs away. That was my first taste of a proper Spanish G&T. 

Make it with…

Larios 12 Premium Gin Mediteránea

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Xoriguer Mahon Gin 70cl

Soberano - Spanish drinks

Spanish brandy and coffee

In Spain, it’s quite normal to see people having a little brandy or anise with their morning coffees. Nobody stages an intervention. That’s a little too early for me but there’s really nothing better to sip alongside a cafe solo after lunch than Spanish brandy. You could choose something a little fancy like a Brandy de Jerez or go for Soberano, the country’s leading brandy. It also makes a splendid long drink with soda or tonic water, or mix it in an Espresso Martini instead of vodka. 

Make it with….

Soberano Reserva 12 70cl 

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Lepanto Solera Gran Reserva

Fino sherry with olives

Very dry sherry does take a bit of getting used to if you’re accustomed to the fruity flavours of pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. But for whisky drinkers, the intensely dry, wood-influenced flavours of a fino or a manzanilla make perfect sense especially when there are salty snacks involved. Sherry is such a great all-rounder at the table, there are very few savoury dishes that it doesn’t go with. It also has the most incredibly transportative powers – close your eyes, add some olives and you could be in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

Make it with…

Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Palomino Fino 75cl 

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Gonzalez Byass Dos Palmas Fino 50cl

*Drinking age is now 18 in Spain.