Gin & Tonic: Spain’s Obsession, Despite the Recession

Gin and Tonic

SRapallo, Strawberry G&T II, watercolor, 2017
SRapallo, Strawberry G&T II, watercolor, 2017

You probably always thought Gin and Tonic was just another kind of drink, right? Just put gin, tonic and some lime, right? Yeah, me too, but not in Spain. You even may think that is definitely not the most exciting cocktail you ever tried, but once again, not in Spain. In Spain the casual G&T is practically an art form, as bartenders pays attention to which gins they use with which tonics, and add thoughtful garnishes and thick ice cubes, serving the drink in goblets. They have entire booklets for G&T on bars, you can even get lost trying to choose one recipe over the other. Literally every bar you go into, from a cocktail bar to a crappy little sports bar, had 25 to 30 gins.

To write this post I made a little research over the subject and found out they have 65 types of gins, but only 5 types of tonics. There are not a ton of different tonics on the market in Spain. They have a dozen or so different tonics and a lot of companies make them. But most bars make their own tonic syrup and carbonated it. They are also very picky about the ice too. Just not any type of ice… no, most fancy bars just use Kold-Draft. Because the idea is that you want larger, denser ice with less air trapped in there, so it melts slower. It keeps the drink colder longer and there’s less dilution, which is ideal for something you’ll be sipping on.

They also have special Gin Clubs where you can choose from more than 40 gin brands paired up with their own trimmings. You can take it into infinity and beyond. It is refreshing, not overly sweet, and easy to drink. But in my case, just one drink for the night, the second G&T normally gives me a brutal headache the day after. But like the Spanish after discovering that G&T is much more than a normal and even boring drink served in plastic cups, it’s safe to say I had never tasted the true potential of this glorious convergence of grain and bubbles. Sounds even poetic.

The recipes are endless, from juniper berries, verbena, edible flower, black pepper, strawberry, cucumber, lime and lemon of course, but also orange, herbs like rosemary, chili and quinine, rhubarb, celery, melon, raspberry and thyme. You can be insanely creative on Gin & Tonic. Enough talking, let´s have a drink!!!! Here a simple strawberry gin tonic I prepared. I must say it was a pleasure night, preparing the post, making the G&T, photographing it, drawing and painting it and sipping my G&T while listening nice music. Jazz, of course!

Strawberry G&T

SRapallo, Strawberry GT, watercolor, 2017
SRapallo, Strawberry GT, watercolor, 2017

Ingredients

3 strawberries
18 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 12 oz. navy-strength gin
4 oz. tonic
Cinnamon stick

Instructions

Muddle 2 strawberries and ⅛ tsp. freshly ground black pepper in a shaker; pour into an ice-filled goblet. Stir in 1½ oz. navy-strength gin. Top with 4 oz. tonic; garnish with a strawberry and cinnamon stick.
If life give you lemons, make a Gin & Tonic.

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Metropolis, Madrid

Metropolis Building

Since I’m still feeling the French atmosphere after last weekend in Paris, I decide to pay homage to, perhaps, the most famous building in Madrid, a wonderful Beaux Arts architecture – an extremely elegant French style characterized by conservative lines and impressive sculptural elements. The magnificent edifice has been designed by French brothers Jules and Raymond Fevrier to host the headquarters of the insurance company La Unión y el Fénix, and completed in 1910 by Spanish architect Luis Esteve.

In 1972, the building was acquired by Metrópolis Seguros and a series of restorations begun. Nowadays, it retains its former appearance, excepting the original statue on top of the dome representing Phoenix and Ganymede, which has been replaced.

Metropolis Building’s main features include the bright white façade, which is lavishly decorated with sculptures and various ornaments, as well as the spectacular black dome on top of which a gorgeous statue of Winged Victory designed by Spanish architect Federico Coullaut-Valera Mendigutia rises to the sky.

SRapallo, Metropolis, watercolor, Madrid, 2016.

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Malasaña, Madrid

#2 – Tapas

Everything in Malasaña invites you to stay and grab a beer. Impossible not to try their famous “tapas” sandwiches made with a selection ranging from Iberian ham to fillets. Most of the sandwiches are served on either a crunchy ‘pan de cristal’ or tortillas.

Everyday is a day of Fiesta!! And the summer season has just started.

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Platea Madrid

#1 – Mangos

I couldn’t resist the temptation to buy the iPad Pro…  and yes, I’m talking about the gigantic one! Now, I’m discovering how to use all these amazing tools for drawing, sketching, coloring, and also trying new ways to ally technology to my old fashion way of doing art: pen, pencils, watercolor, mixed media and oil.

Mangos, Madrid, 2016
SRapallo, Mangos, illustration, Madrid, 2016.
I’ve decided now to work on watercolor because of its freshness and unexpected final results. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked with this particular media and I need to practice to regain the skills I lost to express what I want to. As the seasons in Spain change, the variety of food changes with it. So I decide to start a new project: to capture the Spanish way of enjoying food .
Mangos aquarelle, Madrid, 2016.
SRapallo, Mangos, watercolor, Madrid, 2016.

Street vendor in Paraguay

The portraits of street vendor boys from Paraguay represent the lost childhood, the anguish of living in the streets, never knowing when their next meal might be. Their features are nonetheless simple, despite the everyday hardness. They look intriguing, sweet but also rebellious.

No Talk
SRapallo, “No talk”, mixed media on paper, Paraguay, 2003.

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