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Palo, the vermouth of Ibiza
Ibiza people don’t live by ensaimadas alone

(by Pablo Burgués)

 

Hi, friends of all genders all over the world, some weeks ago I told you about the alcoholic drink par excellence in the Pityuses: Ibiza herbs (you can read that not only wonderful but also graceful post clicking here). Well, following this alcoholic-didactic approach that enraptures us, this week I’ll tell you the story of other great brew that cheers Ibiza noble people: Palo

 When the Spanish discovered America, besides making a lot of new friends, they also discovered Quino, a fucking good tree used by Indigenous people to reduce a fever. The first European to confirm its healing effects was Doña Francisca Enríquez de Rivera, Countess of Chinchón among her friends, who became seriously ill with malaria in 1629. Days went by and no medicine was able to slow down that illness that was fatal so far. Then, her beloved husband, Luis Jerónimo Fernández de Bobadilla y Mendoza, Viceroy of Peru among his friends, heard about quinine (powder made with Quino bark), and without a second thought he went out into the park, got a couple of grammes and served them to his wife. The improvement was immediate, but, indeed, the gentle Vicereine wasn’t completely happy with the taste of that concoction and said, according to the chronicles of that time: “With all due respect and without any intention of offending anyone, I don’t give a shit about heaven’s sake and the druggist son of a bitch that has prepared this brew! How fucking disgusting, for heaven’s sake! Next time I prefer to die or that somebody sticks in my eyes needles buttered with Thunder Bitch instead of taking this fucking bullshit”.

 Besides the problem of taste, that concoction got spoiled very soon, and that made it difficult to take it to Europe. Answer: to put the medicine into alcohol and add sugar as if it was going to be forbidden. Result: everybody running naked through marshes and mud holes so that they could be bitten by the mosquito that produces malaria and doctors gave them that delicious drink that also gets you drunk.

But all good things come to an end, my friends, and in the XIX century the always-inconvenient Western medicine developed synthetic medicines, and that ended with many home remedies. However, quinine syrup was a survivor and had come to the world to stay here, so, against the odds, it came to a historical agreement with Medicine: Medicine would deal with fever from Sunday to Friday, and Palo would be in charge of Saturday night fever. Fuck yeah!

Over the years, thyme was added to the original recipe and since then the drink was no longer considered as a medicine and became another one of the pleasant traditional liquors that water our loved and alcoholic Iberian Peninsula: Palo.

Nowadays Palo is served on the rocks and with a bit of soda, so that it is known as the Ibiza vermouth.

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Translation: Dora Sales

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