Burning Down the House

I’m back in France, and glad to be home! However, I’ve noticed that I acquired a few new addictions in Spain. I’ve already had two cups of strong coffee (though I now wish I owned a hand-operated milk frother), I bought Special K at the store, and I have a strange desire for a post-lunch augardente.

One of my two hosts in Salamanca is a native of Galicia, the northwestern region of Spain that a lot of people would compare to France’s Bretagne: it’s like a mini Scotland with Spanish flavor, and known for its green landscape, seafood, white wine, and augardente, or “firewater.”

Homemade, unlabeled, and gorgeous.

Galacian augardentes are liqueurs made from the remains of grapes, usually the skins and pulp left after making wine. It is then further distilled into one of several variations all based on Augardente de Orujo, the clear, nearly 50 percent alcohol that will knock you off your feet.

The herbas variation is pale yellow and refreshing, made with flowery herbs. I think it tastes more powerful because of the light flavor, but that means it also went well with most meals. Licor cafe, dark brown and thicker, is made with sugar and coffee and was my favorite after late, long lunches. It would be the one I would buy for guests if I had to choose.

Crema, Herbas, Cafe.

My all-time favorite was probably crema, which is made with milk and tastes like Irish liquer without the sickening sweetness. Great for an after-dinner dessert drink. And crema and licor cafe together…me gusta!

I’m not sure that homemade augardente like these are entirely legal. So not only have I been spoiled with the good stuff, I’m not sure where one can buy the equivalent! Come Christmas I might be purchasing something fromElige Tu Vino, which looks like it has real augardente made in Galicia. Yum!

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2 responses to “Burning Down the House

  1. Just read a biography of John Sutter, settler of the Sacramento Valley, California, part of Mexico at the time. Apparently he drank a lot of aguardiente with his Mexican buddies. Made me curious to google it. Interesting blog post… how did you make your own aguardiente? Buy the raw stuff and flavor it? Or are you like my neighbor, who has his own Italian grappa still in his garage? -Rob

    • I didn’t make it, I wish I knew how! I suspect it’s an old family recipe of my friend’s, but they definitely made the entire thing from scratch. From what I gathered, they took the remnants of the wine grapes and distill them before adding the flavors. I am jealous of your neighbor.

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