Sol y Sombra…? How could it be that I had never heard of or tried this Spanish drink? It was actually a friend in the US who told me about it, from her recent years visiting Spain. She was drinking it by the fireplace the other night while Denver was getting snow. And Eric and I were experiencing the wet, Mediterranean chill of the Valencian Coast of Spain when she told me what this drink was all about. Being the fresh, new Spaniards that we are, we went out the next night to our local bar and made sure we had one.

The drink is made of two parts: half cognac and half anise dulce, which is sweet anise liquor or called anisette. It’s served in a brandy snifter and tends to be enjoyed after dinner, as a digestive. Eric and I each had one and then a shared another together. The taste is a bit sweet and one should beware – it is best to have on a full stomach, not an empty one like we did. We felt pretty great yet the next morning Eric had a bit of a headache for part of the day.

So I like the name. Sol of course means sun and sombra is shade. This had me thinking that perhaps it was named after the fact that Spain gets a lot of sun so people like to seek out the shade. Well…nice try Amalia, but not so much.

Looking more into it, I didn’t find too much. But trusty Wikipedia gave some good insight I found fascinating. The name and drink are most commonly known in the country’s capital of Madrid. And the name itself is a reference from Spain’s old tradition of bullfighting. When tickets are bought for a bullfight, you purchase them according to either sol, sombra, or sol y sombra. Can you guess yet where this is going?

Sol tickets are the cheapest, because they’re the seats in full sun. If you get seats in sombra then you’re kicking back in full shade, and paying more. Want a balance in price and experience? Then you’d go for the sol y sombra tickets, that have some sun and some shade.

Voila! And thus the idea and name behind this drink. The cognac is darker, like the sombra, and the anise dulce liquor is clear and lighter, like the sol. It’s obviously easy to make at home so give it a try. Have you heard of it or had it before? And remember, have it after eating some food!

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