While Spain may be widely known for its red wines from La Rioja and sparkling wines from Catalunya, the country also has a number of traditional drinks that contain no alcohol at all. Some of these drinks can easily be made at home, such as leche merengada and Spanish chocolate, while others can generally only be purchased at restaurants and cafés or grocery stores, like mosto and horchata.
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Popular on a hot day, Spanish horchata is a drink made from tigernuts, sugar and water, and is served cold. This is different than the horchata consumed in Mexico and Central America, which is made from a base of rice and cinnamon.
Horchata originated in the Spanish region of Valencia. Since then, tigernuts have been traditionally grown in Valencia with the specific purpose of making horchata. The tigernuts are washed, ground, macerated and pressed. Water is added and the mixture is pressed again. Then sugar is added and it is refrigerated for consumption.
Leche merenada is a drink that is made with milk, cinnamon, sugar, lemon zest and egg whites. The milk is cooked with the cinnamon, sugar and lemon zest, and then refrigerated. The egg whites are whisked into peaks and folded into the milk, and then refrigerated before serving.
Leche merengada is served cold, sometimes garnished with a little ground cinnamon on top, and is often associated with the summer in Spain. It was once a favored drink among Madrid’s café culture. While not as popular as it once was, it is still readily available in Spain. Leche merengada can also be made into ice cream.
Mosto is a popular and traditional non-alcoholic drink in Spain. It is made of pressed grapes, but it is not allowed to ferment so as to make wine. The result is a full-bodied grape juice, which is available in two varieties: red and white. Mosto is served cold with or without ice.
Spanish chocolate generally contains chocolate, sugar, corn starch and milk. The milk is heated and then the chocolate, sugar and corn starch are whisked in. Once the mixture thickens properly, it is served warm in tea cups and often accompanied by a plate of fried Spanish pastries called churros.