A Uniquely Spanish Liqueur: Patxaran

In the Northwest, we’re all about local.  We shop local and support local small businesses.  While Pintxo is all about the local and small business support, we also believe in stepping out of our comfort zone to try something new and exciting.  While we do offer a great selection of local liquors, we wouldn’t be fulfilling our personal passions or our mission as a Spanish-inspired restaurant if we didn’t offer at least one very traditional Spanish liqueur with a long and interesting history.  For those seeking something new, something authentic, and something downright fun to drink, I highly encourage trying Patxaran.

I know, I know, the name is almost as tongue twisting as our name, “Pintxo.”  But, like our name, Patxaran isn’t really that hard to pronounce.  If you read our blog on the pronunciation and meaning of our name “Pintxo,” then you remember that in Basque words, “tx” is commonly seen, and despite it’s intimidating appearance, is very easily pronounced “ch.”  Outside of Basque country, Patxaran is spelled “Pacharan,” and this is also exactly how the liqueur’s name is pronounced.
The History of Patxaran and Its Uses
Now that we have that all cleared up, we can move on to what it is, and why I think it is so cool, and so supremely delicious.  Patxaran is made from the Spanish sloe berry, called “baso aran.”  In the U.S we’re most familiar with the sloe berry in the old timey sloe gin, best known for it’s primary role in the classic sloe gin fizz cocktail.  The Spanish have been harvesting and utilizing the sloe berries native to Navarro and La Rioja to make Patxaran for hundreds of years.  In fact, Queen Blanche I, a Queen of Navarra, was treated for her ailments using this sloe berry concoction.  The first uses of Patxaran greatly revolved around medicinal purposes.  Patxaran was believed to protect the body against stroke, calm the nerves, aid in calming the stomach and alleviating digestion problems, and relieve bodily aches and pains, among other things.

By the 14th century, use and consumption had begun to spread.  While it was still being used for medical problems, and highly regarded in terms of this use, Patxaran use was also spreading to celebratory consumption.  Spanish royals and aristocracy took to consuming the sloe berry beverage and offering it to their guests.  Despite this fact, Patxaran was still largely Basque drink, and large scale sale was virtually non-existent.  Many Basque whipped up their own Patxaran at home, and still do to this day.  However, around the 19th century, the Spanish would finally see Patxaran dealers begin to hit the major market.  It was at this time that much of Spain fell in love with the liqueur.

How to Drink It
Patxaran is traditionally consumed in a very simple manner, chilled.  It can also be served over ice.  The rich, sweet, yet spiced flavor of Patxaran is great for this type of service.  It makes a wonderful digestif for after dinner.  Still feeling unsure?  Pintxo offers a great cocktail using the basis of the classic Diablo, but putting a fun Spanish twist on it.  We call it the Deabrua (mainly because it is the Basque word for “Devil.” – See what we did there?)  Anyway, it’s a great introduction to the flavor of Patxaran because it combines easily accessible and loved flavors like ginger beer and tequila, with the more original flavors of the Spanish sloe berry.

Other Ways to Drink Patxaran
While tradition suggests drinking Patxaran straight up and chilled, or over ice, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a contemporary twist to enjoy.  The Spanish also serve it up as a cocktail. Simple Spanish cocktails utilizing Patxaran include:
-Patxaran and soda
-Patxaran and lemon juice or orange juice
-Patxaran and cranberry, raspberry, or cherry juice
-Patxaran and milk
-Patxaran and cava (This is an amazing combo for a slightly spiced, bubbly, 100% divine cocktail. Uniquely Spanish for sure!)