The Origin of the Kalimotxo
The origin of the Kalimotxo (also known as Calimocho) is tied to Algorta’s Old Port. Although the blend of red wine and a cola drink already existed in the 1920’s, it was a minority beverage because there were barely any establishments that served the American soft drink.
Things changed in 1953 when the first Coca Cola factory came into operation in Spain and the long drink became popular under many different names: Rioja Libre, Mochete, Tincola, Poor man's long drink, Blue-collar long drink…
The invention of the term is attributed to the “Antzarrak” squad, who were responsible for organising the festivities that year. In doing so, they bought 2,000 litres of red wine, which, either due to the heat or to the seller’s chicanery, turned out to be sour.
As they had paid a considerable amount for their purchase they had to find an outlet for the flawed wine which, although not harmful to their health, according to what a doctor acquaintance of theirs told them, tasted particularly unpleasant. After several mixers they tried with a cola drink, they found the right amount to cover up the bad taste of the wine and they came upon the rule that it was necessary to add the same amount of cola as wine. That way, they had to be able to sell 4,000 litres of this beverage to their customers in order to get rid of all the stock of wine.
Some were of the opinion that it would help not to say what the beverage actually was and it needed an attractive name. The ideas for naming the drink did not gel until one of the squad’s not very attractive friends from Erandio, nicknamed “Kalimero”, but better known as just “Kali” appeared; someone remarked that the word for “ugly” in the Basque language was “motxo”, whereby the association with poor Kali was swift and the name Kalimotxo was unanimously agreed upon by everyone present.
Some time later, Coca Cola registered the name of the popular drink. Even the Spanish Royal Academy of Language acknowledges the term “Calimocho” as the name for the drink comprising red wine and a cola soft drink.
(*) Getxo Town Council recommends alcoholic drinks be consumed responsibly and reminds users that it offers an Addictions Service (c/Urgull, s/n, 2º. Tel.: +34(0)94 466 01 51).
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