When you arrive in Spain, bars seem to be everywhere. It’s not just an optical illusion: they are the center of Spanish social life and the best, cheapest places to get drinks.
Here’s how we do it in Spain:
Una caña. This is the standard glass of beer in Spain, usually somewhere between 200 and 330 ml based on the bar. Different regions may give it different names, but “caña” is typically understood all-around. For the most part, you’ll be surprised to see how cheap a beer is in Spain. We don’t drink hard liquor very often in Spain, preferring instead drinks made with beer and wine. Una clara is beer mixed with gaseosa (soda similar to Sprite), and una caña con limón is beer with lemon soda, an excellent summer drink.
Vino tinto, vino rosado and vino blanco—red wine, rosé and white wine. Wine is a very popular drink, especially because we produce so much of it. Though we usually drink it with meals, it’s also common to have as an aperitif or during a night out. People will often refer to it by its region or type of grape: for example, un Rioja means a glass of red wine from La Rioja, and un verdejo refers to white wine from the verdejo grape. Vino de la casa is the house wine, offered in a pitcher to accompany your meal. If you want sparkling wine, ask for cava, which comes from the region of Catalonia.
If you look around, you’ll see that most of the people enjoying pitchers of sangria are tourists. Don’t fall for that trap.
As mentioned before, we also enjoy a variety of wine-based drinks. If you look around, you’ll see that most of the people enjoying pitchers of sangria are tourists. Don’t fall for that trap. We prefer tinto de verano, a refreshing summer drink made of red wine and gaseosa (the waiter will bring a bottle of each to your table), sometimes garnished with lemon or other fruits. There’s also calimocho, wine with Coca-Cola, though it’s more popular in the Basque region and a favorite of teenagers. These types of drinks are made with cheaper wine and, though they may sound like strange mixes, they taste very good but are probably not suited for the most refined palates.
Finally, un chupito is a shot. It’s common for restaurants to give you one on the house at the end of your meal, but don’t get too excited: they’re usually anis or liquor made with herbs. For more fashionable options, you might want to go out on the town.