Against all my better judgement, I tried a Kalimotxo cocktail. Coca-Cola. Red wine. Together? It sounds like something you’d concoct as a 15-year-old stealing alcohol from your parents’ stash. I expected something about as pleasant as flat grape soda—but oh, how wrong I was. The mixture of citrus-spiced cola and fruited red wine blend together to taste nothing like red wine or cola at all. It’s reminiscent of Sangria, with a light caffeine kick, but doesn’t involve any chopping or waiting. The Kalimotxo is a one of a kind, lightly carbonated, low-ABV cocktail all its own—and definitely one to sip freely on a summer afternoon.
The Kalimotxo, Basque Country’s favorite cocktail
This cocktail is light and lovely—and low enough in alcohol to drink at lunch, and still head back to work clear-eyed and focused. The key is this: Make it as big or small as you want. This is a cocktail that’s all about proportions. Want a quick pick-me-up? Mix in two or three ounces of each ingredient. Long day? Up it to five or six ounces each. The only alcohol in here comes from the wine, so feel free to go up or down freely. Remember, a glass of wine that you’d get at a restaurant is probably between 5–6 ounces.
Time: Maybe two minutes, if you have to open a new bottle of wine
Serves: One cocktail
Eat: Basque-esque OctoSalad
1. Mix Coca-Cola and wine together over plenty of ice
2. Garnish with a citrus slice, if you're feeling fancy
Um, excuse me?
How do you pronounce this drink?
It looks tricky, but it’s easy, we promise. In Basque Country the sound “tx” is pronounced “ch.” So, this is pronounced ca-lee-mo-cho. Kalimotxo!
Do I have to use Coca-Cola?
No, any cola will do. But doesn’t Coca-Cola taste the best?
What’s the difference between Mexican Coke and regular Coca-Cola?
Mexican Coke is made with real cane sugar, while regular Coca-Cola in the US is made with corn syrup. It’s usually found in smaller glass bottles, and if a place has Mexican Coke, they will definitely advertise it. If you’ve never had Mexican Coke, we recommend doing so post-haste. It truly tastes better.
What kind of red wine should I use?
A lot of recipes call for Spanish wine—which makes sense, right? This cocktail is wildly popular throughout Spain. However, we say open whatever you have at home that’s cheap. When we made this recently (and snapped the shots used above), it was a Mount Etna red from Sicily that I had leftover from my day job at Full Pull Wines. But, you’re mixing this wine with soda—you don’t need to be too picky. As long as the wine is relatively dry and not overwhelmingly oaky or tannic, it will be delicious.
You ladies seem VERY into Basque country.
Yes, yes we are. Basque country is such a cool place in the world—a little enclave in Northern Spain/Southern France where they speak a Pre-Indo-European language that predates both French and Spanish. They have their own food culture, their own wine (Txakoli!), their own rituals. You’ve gotta love that dedication to tradition.