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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La Ardosa

Bodela de la Ardosa, Madrid

SRapallo BodegaArdosa, watercolor, 2017.
SRapallo BodegaArdosa, watercolor, 2017.

Calle de Colón, 13, Malasaña

One of the first bars we visit when we arrived in Madrid. It´s a old bar with excellent salmorejo (cold tomato soup made with bread, oil, garlic and vinegar) and croquetas or tortilla de patatas (potato and onion omelette). You have to try it!

As a decor I specially love the grotesque  Goya´s drawings hanged all over the walls. Most of the people don´t even notice them. They have two ambient s;  one in front and the other at the back of the bar, you have to pass below the counter top.

A brief history

In 1892 Rafael Fernández Bagena, owner of vineyards in the region of La Ardosa, Toledo, created and founded the chain of Bodegas La Ardosa in Madrid, which would have 36 establishments. Some are still open in the streets Sta. Engracia, 70 , Ponzano, 10 and Abtao, 32.

Gregorio Monje, a butcher by profession, acquired La Ardosa in 1970. In 1979 he began working there with his wife Conchita, who presented the tavern to the most prestigious tortilla competitions, and his sons Rafael and Ángel.  At the death of Gregorio. In 1995, the distributor  was sold and the children continued with the brewery business. Currently, La Ardosa is run by Ángel, assisted by  his wife, Concepción, and by a team that he trained and educated to serve beer with the same dedication and devotion as always.

During the 80’s he specialized in beers, becoming an institution. They worked the English Bass brewery, the German Warsteiner and were pioneers in importing Czech beers like the authentic Czech Budweiser and Pilsner Urquell. Ah, they also have Guinness and Bombardier.
This place is crowded on weekends, well… in fact every night – the Spanish way of life. They are pro…. they drink Monday to Monday.

Continue reading “La Ardosa”

Adorable Chunks

Srapallo, Chunks, watercolor, 2017.
Srapallo, Chunks, watercolor, 2017.

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This is our cat Chunks, a Himalayan-Persian cat that I had from China, where I lived for some years. Thinking about “furry”, he is the first thing that comes to my mind. He is not only furry, I use to say that he a veritable “furry factory” because he obviously leaves fur all over the house. He is adorable, a good companion, sweet and affectionate . These cats are sweet-tempered, intelligent, and generally very social and good companions. Because of their heritage from the Siamese cats, they tend to be more active than Persians.  Chunks loves to play hide and seek, and also fetch a paper ball  or a kitty toy will entertain him, but just for a while. He is a kind of an old cat already. What he loves the most is nap, nap, nap…. all day in different beds. One thing he doesn’t like is when his food container is low on food… somehow I always think that he doesn’t like when his whiskers touch the bottom.

Este é o nosso gato Chunks, um Persa da Himalaya que eu trouxe da China, onde vivi por alguns anos. Pensando em algo “peludo”, ele é a primeira idéia que me vem à mente. Ele não é apenas peludo, costumo dizer que é uma verdadeira “fábrica de pelos” porque ele, obviamente, deixa pelos pela casa inteira. Ele é adorável, um grande companheiro, doce e amoroso. Esse tipo de gato tem um humor gentil, inteligente, é geralmente muito sociável e são grandes companheiros. Por causa de sua herança siamesa, eles tendem a ser mais ativos do que os persas normais. Chunks adora brincar de esconde-esconde e também buscar bolas de papel que a gente joga para ele ou brinquedos de gatos, mas não por muito tempo. Ele já é um  gato idoso, considerando a idade. O que ele mais gosta mesmo é tirar sonecas, sonecas, sonecas… o dia inteiro e em camas diferentes. Uma coisa que ele não gosta é quando o prato de comida dele está com pouca comida… de alguma forma eu sempre penso que ele não gosta de encostar os imensos bigodes dele no fundo do prato.

Sennelier colors, Daniel Smith colors and Maimeri colors on hand.paper sketchbook.

SUSANARAPALLO.COM

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Sublime Terrine

Sublime Terrine

 

I just love terrine and pates and… well, French Cuisine.  Last weekend we went to visit the Monastery of Uclés, located 98km from Madrid and I bought a bottle of Vermut by a local producer. Well, it was the excellent excuse to prepare another terrine. This time I put pork, veal and cow meat. Wrapped in bacon and also pistachios, mushrooms, rose pepper and  truffles.

We put in this terrine porcelain we bought on my last trip to Paris, at Au Bain Marie shop.  If you want to try it, below you can find the recipe.2 tbsp brandy, optional – Vermut in my case

SRapallo, Terrine, watercolor on Archer, 2017.
SRapallo, Terrine, watercolor on Archer, 2017.
    • 12 rashers bacon
    •  100 g pack pork mince
    • 100 g pack veal mince
    • 100 g pack cow meat mince
    • 50 g (2oz) pistachios, roughly chopped
    • 50 g mushrooms chopped and seasoned with truffles´s oil
    • Bay leaves to decorate
 Method
  1. In a large bowl let all the meats to macerate for 20-24 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan) mark 4. Put the 1 or 2 bay leaves in the loaf to decorate.  Use about the bacon to line the inside of a 900g (2lb) loaf, leaving excess hanging over the sides. Mix together the meats and put them on the food processor, but don´t let much time, just to cut in small pieces.
  3. Press the mixture into the loaf tin, leveling the surface. Fold any overhanging bacon over the filling; cover with remaining rashers. Press down again to make sure the surface is smooth. Lightly oil a small sheet of aluminum foil and press on top of the loaf tin. Wrap tin well in a further double layer of foil, then put into a roasting tin.
  4. Half-fill the roasting tin with boiling water from the kettle and carefully transfer to oven. Cook for 1½hr until the terrine feels solid when pressed. Leave to cool.
  5. Serve the terrine warm or at room temperature in slices with toast and salad.

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Flower of Love

SRapallo, Flower, watercolor, 2017
SRapallo, Flower, watercolor, 2017

A flower vase that I have at home, a gift from a lovely girl that stayed with us last weekend.

Flower Of Love – Poem by Oscar Wilde

Sweet, I blame you not, for mine the fault was, had I not been made of common
clay
I had climbed the higher heights unclimbed yet, seen the fuller air, the
larger day.

From the wildness of my wasted passion I had struck a better, clearer song,
Lit some lighter light of freer freedom, battled with some Hydra-headed wrong.

Had my lips been smitten into music by the kisses that but made them bleed,
You had walked with Bice and the angels on that verdant and enamelled meed.

I had trod the road which Dante treading saw the suns of seven circles shine,
Ay! perchance had seen the heavens opening, as they opened to the Florentine.

And the mighty nations would have crowned me, who am crownless now and without
name,
And some orient dawn had found me kneeling on the threshold of the House of
Fame.

It was painted with Sennelier watercolor on hand.book paper.

SUSANARAPALLO.COM

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Tired toes … beauty grace … disgrace

SRapallo,untitled, skechbook, Madrid, 2016
SRapallo,untitled, skechbook, Madrid, 2016

cropped-adh_5988-e14650660978762.png

Reflection on women… ballet dancer

 

There she goes

with beauty and grace

maybe hiding

some sad disgrace

 

Ballerinas

with tired shoes

floating everyday

bleeding every month

 

Can you dance too?

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