The Orujo Festival!

I had never heard of orujo until I came here, so I am not exactly sure if it’s something that the states even has (I think not). But here it’s a big deal, big enough that for one weekend every year, a TON of people head to the adorable town of Potes at the foot of the Picos mountains for the official Orujo Festival.

So, first of all, what is it? It is a liquor whose basic ingredient is the residue from wine production. It’s a clear liquor, and according to what I just read, has between a 37 and 50% alcohol content. In other words, this stuff is STRONG. You normally have it as a chupito, or served in a teeny little shot glass, and is intended to be sipped, not done like a shot (like most Americans, including myself, tried to do with it when we first had it). There are normally four kinds:  plain, with honey, with herbs and cream of orujo (which is sorta like Baileys and very sweet).

We drove out Saturday morning, stopped to have an amazing lunch on the way, and then to our hotel (there is no drinking orujo and then driving anywhere, especially since the police literally set up road blocks and test just about everyone leaving the town that night!) which was about 20 minutes down the road. The festival itself had a little parade, and then 8 producers set up shop in a big huge tent, where a panel of judges then goes around and tests them all in order to award prizes. When the testing is done, the vendors open up – it used to be a much smaller event and they would give out shots of orujo for free, but now you buy tickets. People (of which there were a GAZILLION) show up with empty egg cartons, because the shots are perfectly sized to carry around in those. We spent a lot of time at the bars and walking around, and when we finally decided to try the tent, it took poor C 40 minutes in one line. That was it, and we went back to drink our orujo from the bars again.

It was a very lively festival, as most are in Spain. People spill out from the bars with their drinks into the streets, lots of music everywhere. We stood outside one bar for a long time, listening to a group play – there was a bagpiper, a guy playing all sorts of drums, sometimes playing recorder-looking things, guitars, strange types of guitars, and singing mountain songs. All our age! Crazy but very fun.

We got up the next morning and took the cable car up to get some spectacular mountain views (I had done this with my girls last year, but Jami…did I mention we have a friend in town this weekend??…hadn’t done it, so we went again). The fall colors were out of this world.

Here’s a few shots of the weekend.

Potes, before all the crowds descended!

At the top of the cable car, Charles' self-portraiting skills. 🙂

Such amazing views...but COLD up there!

We came back just in time for an enormous Sunday comida with the family. And then  promptly all had to siesta.

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