Ooh, it is hot, hot, heat in Madrid! And I think it’s time to try out a favourite among Spanish locals – especially in warm sunshiney weather… the Tinto de Verano (Summer red wine).
Tinto de Verano
It’s a cocktail made up of red wine, lemon or lime flavoured soda water (usually not as sweet as common brands of lemonade but you could try that if you prefer your drinks sweeter), a slice of lemon and served with ice. I’d heard of it before but mostly thought why would you do that to red wine?? Now, with the beginning of summer coming up and soaring temperatures in Madrid, I thought perhaps it’s time to give it a whirl… Besides which, when my couch host’s French girlfriend (And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read our earlier post all about couchsurfing) assured me it really is the perfect summer drink, I figured why not. (Being French, she did also add that it is something very Spanish and although she was rather partial to it, it wouldn’t be something she’d admit to drinking back home in France…)
So when I met up for drinks with a fellow couchsurfer in the heart of the city, I asked for a tinto de verano and was pleasantly surprised. Not as strong as sangria, it actually tastes more refreshing – and is great when the weather’s hot and alcohol is likely to go to your head that little bit quicker.
Ready made too!
It’s pretty easy to make up for yourself but if you’re thinking wouldn’t it be great if you could just buy it in a bottle to save you carrying more bottles? Well you can - tinto de verano is also sold at all the main supermarkets in Spain…
Who says you can’t have red wine in the summer?
Drinking and eating amongst friends
Alfresco drinking and dining is one of the best things you can do in Madrid. The streets are full of tables and chairs on pavements – if you’re hoping to get to a specific bar, you’re better off getting there early! But there are so many, you’re bound to find a spot to park yourself soon enough. We stuck to the city centre near Puerta del Sol but walking over from Museo Reina Sofia, through the Lavapies neighbourhood and onto Centro, the pavements were chock-a-block with people enjoying the evening warmth around tables with cañas, tinto de veranos and tapas. A caña by the way is a small glass of beer (though sometimes it's not necessarily small... I did however ask what a big glass of beer would be and my hosts said a caña doble – though, really, people only ever drink cañas – stays more refreshing that way!).
Caña and tapas
Something else I also love about drinking in Spain… lots of places will just serve you a plate of tapas when you order a drink. It might be a plate-full of pork stewed in a tomato based sauce or a piece of bread and jamon… it might even just be popcorn or a couple of cubes of cheese and a slice of chorizo, but it’s very rarely nothing! (At least, I think so…). My couch host says eating and drinking is a very sociable thing to do in Spain. It’s very rare for someone to go out just for a drink or to eat by themselves. Tapas is perfect for this because they're so shareable! It’s also really cheap! We went out for cañas and tapas near where my hosts live in Alcorcon, which is a town next to Madrid (still just 20 minutes drive away in your Madrid car hire from the city centre though!) and 6 cañas, which came with two big plates of tapas, cost €7.50. Bargain!
If you’re looking for a good spot for tasty tapas which locals love in Madrid, try Restaurante Quevado on the corner of Calle Quevado and Calle de Lope de Vega. I so very much wanted to try it but it was full of people the two times I tried… which I figure says a lot about how much people love this establishment. Go early at 12.30 for lunch and to get a table, or just soak up the atmosphere and stand until a table’s free.
Restaurante Quevado Lope de Vega, 17 Madrid +34 91 429 40 58
Madrid is also fantastic for daytrips - drive out to towns like Toledo, Aranjuez and Segovia to name just a few. Love Spain? See our fantastic deals on Spain car hire and start planning that next trip...
If you’d like to see what other drinks we’ve tried and loved on our travels why not check out:
From Menorca with gin
The Italian hot toddy
Champagne in London’s Carnaby Street
Champagne in Champagne (well, of course!)
Barcelona’s fruit shakes