I say calimocho, you say kalimotxo: Skip the sangria and drink like a real Spaniard

My favorite summer drink is probably going to sound, well, gross.

Calimochos are a beloved summer drink, especially if you’ve spent any time in Spain, where the drink originates. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

At least that’s the response every time I tell someone about calimocho, the Spanish drink that rivals sangria in popularity there. But their opinions change as soon as I serve them one.

When I was living in Spain in college, I was surprised to find this mixture of red wine, Coke, lemon juice and ice was seemingly as popular in southern Spain as the well-known sangria. I don’t love chewing on pieces of fruit that have been soaked in wine — and sangria often has a lot of added sugar that makes the drink almost too sweet to enjoy.

In Spain, people sometimes drink calimochos from the iconic porron, a drinking vessel that has a long spout. Contributed by Wikipedia.

Calimochos, though sweet, are more balanced and lighter to drink on these hot summer days. They originated in the northern part of Spain in the 1970s, where the Basques spell the name, kalimotxo.

The drink is quite literally a wine cooler, and though the combination of wine and Coke sounds odd, the tangy tanins of both are surprisingly complementary. The tartness of the lime and the cool water that melts off the ice cubes combine for a refreshing, lightly boozy cocktail that you can sip on while grilling, tubing, camping or curled up on the couch watching “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

To make one — or a whole batch — mix together about half cola and half wine, and you can use any red wine you like. I’m sure there are some kinds that work better than others, but calimochos are a blue collar, utilitarian drink, so the cheaper, the better. A fresh, effervescent Coke can brighten even week-old wine that’s been sitting in your fridge. I insist on adding lemon, but according to the Wikipedia page, there are countless variations with added liqueurs and zest.

Just don’t forget the ice. And a seat in the shade.

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