100 years on: that same Ibizan drink
While most people heading to Ibiza will look to get pints of larger, elaborately named cocktails and bottles of wine, one drink is still served today as it was 100 years ago in a small bar in St Miquel.
Home to the oldest bar on the island, St Miquel might just be the epicentre of where the drinking culture started. Winding your way to the peak of the town, where its church is based is a small bar, no bigger than the size of a kiosk or a small shop in London.
It is the most unassuming bar as you are ever likely to find. There’s no signs, no big door, no people outside forcing you in. It’s like any other building found in Ibiza, with tall white walls aligned with windows on the first floor and as your gaze meets the road you see a tiny door - no bigger than five or so foot.
Most tall people will have to duck slightly as they walk through but it’s here that you will meet a member of the “Planells” family who have owned the bar, “Can Xicu”, for over a century. Asking for some information about the place the owner ‘Cata‘ looks back towards the shelves behind her.
In between the tequila and the sambuca and the whisky and the vodka she pulls out this bottle, of what looks like to be stalks of weeds all scrunched into the neck as tightly as possible. One struggles to see any liquid inside at all, until Cata takes a glass and pours me the drink.
It is called Hierbas Aromaticas and, although this description gives the drink no cultural significance whatsoever, tastes a bit like sambuca. Others may fiercely disagree, however. It is certainly not a thirst quenching drink, more of an after dinner occasion, and costs a mere 1.80 euros a glass.
The preparation is somewhat more impressive. Taking these ‘aromatic herbs’ in June the bottle then needs to be stored fomenting until the following Christmas. So what one tastes the following June, is herbs that were growing in Ibiza a year or so ago. It is this aspect that give the homemade liqueur appeal, in that this is a process that has been practice for decades here in Ibiza, and if one is to have any sort of cultural experience with the drink it should be here.
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