If you have a fear of fire, burning, the colour blue or hard liquor, then this fruity Spanish punch is not for you.
Galician fire drink, queimada, is a beverage deeply rooted in pagan tradition and made with regional liqueur Licor de Orujo. It gains its fame from the electrifying method it’s served: orujo, lemon peel, coffee beans and sugar are placed in a clay pot and set on fire.
Once the flames have turned blue, the fire is extinguished, and the drink is served warm in ceramic cups.
In some parts of Galicia, queimada is traditionally prepared inside a guttered pumpkin – clever method of using the pumpkin as both utensil and ingredient. It is also traditional to drink queimada on San Xoan (St John) night – the night of witches!
While the alcohol burns, it is tradition to recite a spell in Gallego, the regional dialect of Galicia. The spell is believed to call upon nature’s elements to purify the drink, protect the drinker from witchcraft and to share the warm liquid with family and friends who have died.
There is conflict of when the tradition actually began. Some have argued the Celts invented the drink, particularly as Celtic Spain is now exclusively found in Galicia.
Ironically, although the spell conjures images of medieval times (and let’s be honest, it is very Macbeth…) the current spell was actually only written in 1967.
Variations of queimada around the world mostly relate to the alcohol that is used: some reciepes only specify that a dry red should be used, some cosmopolitan recipes suggest the use of Italian grappa instead of orujo and others embrace more spices like cinnamon. At Melbourne’s Robert Burns Hotel, queimada is served traditionally on special regional cuisine nights.