Menorca might be a part of Spain and a distinctly Mediterranean island but, when it comes to the favourite cocktail of the locals, it is not a glass of Sangria or a nip of sherry that floats their boat. Instead, the drink that has become very much one of the preferred Menorcan customs is gin. Made into a local cocktail, known as pomada, gin is a mainstay in every bar. |
History of Gin in Menorca
Why is it, though, that the local people of Menorca have developed a love affair with this liquor and made it part of their many Menorcan customs? Gin is usually associated with the British and the time of the Raj in India, not with the Mediterranean, which is more famous for its wines and sherries.
The answer lies in history. After the War of The Spanish Succession and during the eighteenth century, the British invaded Menorca on several occasions. Many of the British troops spent time on the island for extended periods and the one British luxury they missed was a tipple of gin.
Seeing an opportunity to capitalise on this fact, the locals on the island soon began to import juniper berries and make a type of gin completely unique to Menorca. Instead of using grain, as the British do, they use Mediterranean wine, which is distilled in the process. Juniper berries had to be imported because they do not grow naturally on the island.
Xoriguer (which is pronounced sho-ri-gair) is the most well known brand of gin produced today, and the family running the successful business have been doing so for almost 100 years. The product is so well respected that it has gained protective geographic indication. Gin with this accolade can only be produced on Menorca itself. The rather quaint label on this bottle of gin displays the Xoriguer windmill that dates back to 1784.
Mix It Up
One of the most enjoyed Menorcan customs is the pomada, the beverage made with the local gin and either bitter lemon or lemonade. When this deliciously refreshing drink is mixed up it produces a delectable, if rather strong, cocktail. If you fancy sampling a pomada, the best place to do it is to join one of the celebrations of Menorcan customs and get yourself to a local fiesta. There are many of these held throughout the year, each one honouring the patron saint of a particular town.
You don’t have to wait for a fiesta, however, to try the pomada cocktail. You could always head to the cosy Cova d’en Xoroi, where they serve an excellent one, which is made extra delicious because it can be enjoyed while watching the sun set over the stunning coastline. If you decide you really like the gin and want to take a bottle back to your own villa, there are several places in Mahon that sell it for the very reasonable price of €12. Grab a bottle of lemonade or bitter lemon, make sure you have some ice in the freezer and you are all set to mix up your own local speciality!
Brenda Jaaback, Managing Director of Bartle Holidays, is a renowned Menorca expert. From its history to its people and from its wildlife to its cuisine - no secret of the island remains hidden to her. If you're coming to experience the Menorcan customs or simply to enjoy the island's stunning natural surrounds, Brenda personally selects the finest properties for her clients and is the go-to person for anyone planning a relaxing holiday in Menorca. Bartle Holidays makes no warranty as to the accuracy of information contained in this article and excludes any liability of any kind for the information.
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