Know About Kalimotxo: Red Wine and Coke Mix


Kalimotxo, (pronounced cal-ee-MO-Cho) and sometimes spelled calimocho, sounds like something, the intrepid sidekick of Marvel Comic’s Doctor Strange, would conjure to ward off evil at a post-apocalyptic event.  But it is no such thing. Instead, it is the name of a rather quixotic wine and coke mix that turns out to be all the rave in Spain and catching on now in other countries around the world.

Despite its unconventional name, Kalimotxo is becoming a very popular drink for cooling down on a sweaty afternoon. In Spain’s Basque country where it remains a choice beverage for both young and not-so-young merrymakers, you will find it as a prominent menu item in many restaurants and wine bars.  In this guide, we will set out to demystify Kalimotxo and perhaps convince you why it should form part of your hydration milieu this year.

What is Kalimotxo?

Kalimotxo is simply a mix of red wine and coke. There is no universal convention about how much of each ingredient should be included in the mix though. While the prevailing practice is to mix coke and red wine in a 50-50 ratio, some people prefer more of the fizzy drink or more wine in the mix. Moreover, sometimes lime gets added to the mix. And, as the Kalimotxo bug has spread around the world, some other variations to the mix have been added to the milieu. It is not uncommon to find other extras such as blackberry liqueurs included. Indeed, there are some people who mix wine with orange soda, instead of coke, but still, call the whole mix Kalimotxo.

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The Story Behind Kalimotxo

The most reliable accounts on the origins of the Kalimotxo fad have it that the practice started in somewhat serendipitous fashion in Spain sometime in the early 1970s. It is said that a group of wine servers discovered that the red wine they were serving was of poor quality. Desperate to make amends, they decided to add some coke to the mix, the fizzy drink being the only addition they had handy at the time. It worked a treat, the coke not only serving to mask the bitterness of the low quality, sour wine but also giving the mix a fizzy and tangy flavor all its own.

The patch-up solution meant to mask the sour taste of the poor-quality wine seemed to work out rather too well. By then known as “rioja libre” or Cuba Libre del pobre (poor man’s Cuba Libre), by the mid 70’s the mix had become a popular drink not only around the Basque region but nationwide in Spain and elsewhere on the Iberian Peninsula.

Historical Event

It is not very clear how the drink’s favorite moniker morphed from Cuba Libre del pobre to Kalimotxo. The most widely accepted account is that at the 1972 Puerto Viejo festivities, a cultural festival in the Basque country’s town of Algorta, the servers in a “tsxona” (a stand where wines and drinks are served during street festivals in Basque country) conjured the name. It is specifically attributed to a matador team known as Antzarrak cuadrilla (Geese young friends circle). It is said the servers morphed the names of two friends in the cuadrilla, Kalimero and Motxo, to one as a compliment.

How Kalimotxo Has Spread & Evolved Over the Years

It may sound like such an iffy combination, but this cocktail of red wine and coke has actually caught on around the world. In the Basque Country region of Spain where it originated, it is a very popular drink, even among teen merrymakers.

In Different Cultures

Other than Spain and elsewhere in Europe’s the Iberian Peninsula, the drink is very popular in parts of Eastern and Central Europe. And as Kalimotxo has spread from its Basque country home, it has evolved in its formulation and how it is enjoyed. People in various cultures also gave it their own names. For instance, in some parts of Spain, it is known as SCENEgria while in Romania it is called Motorină (diesel fuel). Revelers in Serbia and Macedonia, as well as other former Yugoslav nations, refer to the cocktail as Bambus (bamboo). The drink is also popular in the Czech Republic, especially in the capital Prague where it is called Houba.

What Makes Kalimotxo So Popular?

For a drink that has such a quixotic origin, it is something of a paradox that it continues to be popular around the world. Its resilience and popularity can be attributed to a number of factors. Here is a look at the top 5 reason why the drink is so popular;

1. Easy to Make

As wine-based cocktails go, Kalimotxo is among the easiest to formulate and mix. You only need to mix cola and red wine in what is more or less equal proportions and you are good to go. Ensure you have plenty of ice too to add a punch and refreshing gusto to the mix.

2. No Exotic Ingredients Needed

The popularity of Kalimotxo rests mainly on its simplicity, but it is not all about how you can get the drink mixed up in a jiffy. The ingredients are also among the easiest to obtain. Indeed, you can get your bottle of red wine (by convention, the cheaper it is, the better) and coca-cola in your nearest departmental store and you are good to go. No need to worry about stocking up on exotic ingredients to serve your party guests with an iconic drink with an exotic-sounding name.

3. Great on the Palate

Despite its commonplace ingredients, Kalimotxo has a truly distinctive taste to it. While a lot of people consider it as no more than an exotic solution to cool down, it is also much appreciated for being great on the palate. You do not have to take our word for it though. Try it out for yourself and see whether you will not thoroughly enjoy it.

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4. Appeals to a wide demographic of drinkers

The fizzy nature of Kalimotxo and its easy formulation makes it a natural choice for many kinds of drinkers. This versatility of its appeal has contributed to the enduring popularity of the drink as it keeps drawing a loyal following around the globe.

5. Allows you to Experiment

Nothing about the ingredients going into making Kalimotxo is written in stone. As such, you can experiment with the ratios until you hit a mix which best suits you. Whether it is reducing or increasing the amount of red wine, the variety or just adding a little extra ginger for punch, Kalimotxo is very compliant.

How to Make Your Own Kalimotxo

It is easy to make your own version of Kalimotxo at home or in the office. Since at its basic formulation, it comprises cola and wine in a 50:50 ratio, all you need is a bottle coke and one of wine. Pour out half of the coke (save it in the fridge for later) and then fill up the remainder with cheap red wine. Serve it in tumblers of ice and enjoy.

For those to whom Kalimotxo is a new experience, the odd ingredients can appear to be a turn-off. However, when you get to try out the drink for yourself, this is likely to change. Join thousands of people who are discovering the appeal and potency of this fun cocktail. You will enjoy how easy it is to mix, blend it to your own palate preferences and down it for a song too.

Now that you know how to make it for yourself, are you going to try it out? Maybe you need some other supplies for making wine at home but besides this article, we think you should be all set! Let us know how you make out if you decide to try this for yourself. We’re curious how you’d like this!

Wine on My Time is a resource blog for wine lovers all across the world! We take pride in delivering the best quality wine material for our readers. Check us out on Instagram and  Pinterest for daily wine content!

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