Dictionary

Confused by some of the Spanish terms I use? I forget that when I first arrived here in 2011, I had no idea what a caña or guiri was. Got a word that confuses you? Let me know and I’ll do my best to explain. I moonlight as a teacher, after all.

abuelo bar: otherwise known as an “old man bar.” Typical features include old men, bad lighting, cheap prices, and guaranteed tapas. Most likely showing a TV channel on mute in the background. Cleanliness of bathroom and if it has toilet paper/toilet lid/soap can be a bit sketchy, but you soon adapt.

botellín: a little bottle of beer, about 20 cl. These usually cost around one euro or there are offers for cubos (buckets) of five beers for 3-4€.

botella: “normal” sized beer, about 33 cl. A bottle will cost anywhere from 2,50€ to 4€ with craft beers costing more (duh).

botellón: not actually a bottle size. Instead, it is used to refer to a party on the streets or parks, where people have their alcohol with them and sit/stand around. Technically illegal but during barrio fiestas or celebrations, the police tend to look aside.

caña: a small* glass of beer so that your beer doesn’t get warm with the Spanish heat. In Madrid’s center, a caña can usually cost anywhere from 70 céntimos (Museo del Jamón for the win!) to just under two euros. Easy to down and forget how many you’ve had!

*not so small in Bilbao. That led to more beer being drunk than expected. Oops.

calimocho/kalimotxo: a botellón classic, combining red wine and Coca-Cola. Don’t knock it til you try it.

cerveza artesanal: craft beer. A relatively new thing that is catching on here in Madrid.

chupito: a shot.

desayuno: one of my two favorite Spanish words. Breakfast. But it’s usually more of a mid-morning snack that could include a tostada (toast) with tomate (tomato pulp) or mermelada (jam). These usually come with a coffee or tea at a combo price!

doble: bigger than a caña and sometimes the smallest size restaurants have. So when you order a caña, they bring you this. There are worse things in this world. These can cost usually between two and four euros, depending on where you are.

garrafón: it means a big jug but Spanish use it to mean bad-quality alcohol, usually for spirits/liquor. “This place serves garrafón alcohol, let’s not go there.”

guiri: not-Spanish.

merienda: the other favorite Spanish word. Afternoon snack is what it translates to and usually involves something sweet, like a piece of cake. These too can also have a lower price when combined with a coffee.

mini: THESE ARE NOT MINI in size. They usually come in a massive plastic cup and cost around 4-6€.

street beer: a beer that you can buy in an alimentación or from a vendor (or as we call them, a beer fairy because they just appear out of nowhere with a wonderful beer) that you drink as you go to the next club. These usually cost 1€ for the 33 cl and 1,50€ for the tallboys (50 cl). Just try not to get caught by the cops as they can fine you.

tapa: a small (normally) portion of food that arrives with your cold drink. Tapas usually come with cold drinks but not your coffee or tea. Typical tapas can include:

  • olives (WITH pits, so don’t chip a tooth crunching down on it. Also, enjoy the art of graciously taking the pit out of your mouth and putting it away)
  • potato chips (never enough, never)
  • cocktail nut mix
  • little slices of bread with ham/cheese/tortilla/crab/sardine

tinto de verano: what most Spanish people drink in place of sangría. It is a refreshing beverage that mixes red wine (vino tinto) with Casera (sparkling, sweet water) or Casera limón (lemon flavored). Maybe a slice of lemon if you are lucky. In the past, I sometimes forget that when I say “tinto” I am referring to tinto de verano but the waiter is thinking red wine. So be warned.

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