I promised a recipe for the orange syrup from the candied oranges. Well, the sun has put in an appearance this week, which has put me in a holiday mood and wanting one of those cool, refreshing drinks which the Spanish are particularly good at.
As a student, I studied in Cáceres, in the Extremadura region of Spain. My friends and I would look forward each week to our invitation to hacer el botellón, that is meet up and party with lots of other students in the open air. In recent years the botellón, or big bottle, has been linked to binge drinking and vandalism, with many of the local authorities in Spain banning these get togethers.
However, I have fond memories of the botellón. The night would usually start with un paseo, the traditional Spanish evening stroll, this rarely starts before 10 or 11 o'clock at night. In the late evening, Spanish streets are alive with people, everyone from the youngest of children to their grandparents enjoying the fresh air and each others' company. This jovial atmosphere extended, in those days, to the botellón.
My friends and I would amble from our apartment through the parks on the main avenue through central Cáceres, stopping for an ice-cream along the way, before arriving at the Plaza Mayor where we would buy the ingredients for our drinks. A typical botellón drink is a mix of soft drink and an alcoholic beverage. These, along with plastic cups and ice-cubes were sold by street vendors along the edge of the plaza. The Plaza Mayor in Cáceres is at the centre of a striking historic city, a UNESCO world heritage site. It was a beautiful spot to spend the evening sharing a few drinks, philosophising and talking politics with other students from across Europe, sharing a few impromptu supermarket-bought tapas and dancing to Spanish guitar music until the madrugada.
My botellón drinks of choice were Calimocho, a mixture of very cheap red wine and coca-cola, Tinto de Verano, the same cheap red wine with lemonade, or Clara, a kind of shandy made with lager and orange or lemon Fanta. So, here I sit some 12 years later enjoying my Clara con naranja on a patio in North Wales, raising a glass, ¡Salud!, to my Cáceres friends wherever they are now.
For the Clara
A splash of orange syrup
Lager, San Miguel or Victoria de Málaga if you can get it
Add a splash of orange syrup to your glass and fill it with ice-cold lager. A simple recipe in homage to the simple pleasures of the botellón. Preferably served outdoors enjoying the sun.