(Photo: rare specimen. Back then, it was one of the only restaurants serving the mix of wine and Coke that has long been the Spanish teenager’s street drink of choice. But, perhaps due to a shoutout from the Old Grey Lady in 2013 (“Wine and Cola? It Works”) the poor man’s sangria has grown in stature and is now a requisite on every new Spanish restaurant’s cocktail menu. That’s why we aren’t surprised to learn that Lamano, the Chelsea newcomer from the folks behind The Black Ant, has a $9 kalimotxo on its brunch menu.
Some might scoff when they hear that Lamano makes its kalimotxo with blackberry liqueur. After all, Spanish street drinkers usually just empty half a bottle of Coke, fill it up with cheap red wine, y ya esta. But rest assured blackberry liqueur is a pretty common variation, and it isn’t nearly as blasphemous as this tweet right here.
That’s right, Pepsi recently tried to claim ownership over the kalimoxto, which is laughable, mang. It’s widely accepted that the drink got its name at a 1972 festival in the Basque Country, when some bad wine was delivered to a concessionaire and it was discovered that the taste could be improved, or at least masked, with Coke. In their history of the drink, the folks who named it mention Coca Cola specifically, and say that the concoction had previously been known as Rioja libre. (Another history of the kalimotxo even borrows the Coke font for its cover.) It’s uncertain when, exactly, the Rioja libre was born, but it’s worth noting that Pepsi was only introduced to the Spanish market in 1955.
It’s no surprise, then, that Spaniards aren’t having this Pepsi business. El Pais wrote that the ad, which shows the Pepsified kalimoxto being mixed in a classy bar, “risks touching off an international conflict similar to the one involving paella with chorizo.” (Personally, I like my paella with chorizo, but whatever.) The newspaper shared some indignant tweets like this one.
Others worried that the kalimotxo would become the new gintonic, served as pricy, froufrou variations at haute bars all over town. “No a la gentrificación del Kalimotxo,” one person tweeted.
Here in New York, it’s kinda too late. To take just one example: At Huertas, in the East Village, you can get a red or white “kalixmoto” [sic] for $11, and add rum or gin for an additional $2. But, hey, at least they’re using Coke.