The drinking culture is huge in Spain and all of Europe. And no, I don’t just mean alcoholic beverages. Going out for coffee, tea, smoothies, wine, beer—whatever beverage you want—is incredibly important to the Spanish lifestyle. As opposed to the United States, where we go out for lunch, dinner or to the movies, people here go out for drinks. I probably go to cafes around three times a week, since it’s one of the few places people hang out in Spain.
Going out for drinks here is a social event. It typically lasts at least an hour, usually two or three. The idea of coffee-to-go here is basically unimaginable. Drinks are for socialization, not for necessity. Drinks in Spain are also very cheap, about 1.5 euros for a café con leche or 1.3 euros for a cup of tea. Granted, these aren’t the supersize-me sizes we’re used to in the United States, but it’ll pack a punch nonetheless.
The best thing about getting drinks in Spain is that it almost always comes with some kind of food or biscuit. During the day, cafes usually give a small cookie, croissant or cake with your coffee or tea. At night and in the afternoons, they break out the tapas.
Tapas will never cease to amaze me. They’re truly a blessing from God. They may be small, but they’re packed with flavor. Tapas include amazing cheeses and hams, pieces of Spanish tortilla, potato salad, small sandwiches or little pieces of pizza. Though the portions are small, after three drinks you’ll have the equivalent of a small meal. Tapas are an essential part to becoming a Spaniard, and I’m not looking forward to coming back to the USA, where the only free additive with a beverage is a straw.