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Insider A to Z of Ibiza - H is for Hierbas

The Ibiza drink

As any local will tell you, it's impossible to survive a night (or day, in many circumstances!) in Ibiza without a chupito (shot) of Hierbas crossing your path. Hierbas is the indigenous liqueur of the island. Brewed here and drank in large quantities, it is used as a digestif, aperitif and anything in between. Such is the kudos of Hierbas, that I am dedicating an entire feature to it! So prepare yourself for some interesting facts and some advice on the best places to try some for yourself...

Back in the middle ages, a bunch of Balearic monks decided to concoct a magic potion from a heady mix of alcohol and herbs, and the liqueur we fondly know as Hierbas was born. Originally, it was consumed as a medicine and was said to have possessed healing qualities. I can certainly verify that it has cured a number of my ailments. Or possibly just made me forget about them!

Over the years, the methods and techniques for making this gold, syrupy drink have been passed down through generations, and local families fiercely protect their secret recipes. Made from anything from between 20-28 different island herbs, the leading flavour is predominantly aniseed. Served either as a shot or over ice (hierbas con hielo), this spirit is an Ibiza institution.

So here's a couple of insider's spots where a shot of hierbas is the order of the day...


Comidas San Juan

A tiny little family run restaurant in the heart of Ibiza Town, Comidas is a favourite local's haunt all year round. Traditional home-cooked style food done well, expect to queue - reservations are not allowed. The food is remarkably good value for money and at the end of the meal, the waiter will join you for a chupito of their special hierbas which is made in the owner's village of San Lorenzo and incredibly hard to come by. It's bloody delicious. Tip the waiter and he'll shout you another. Boutique Hostal Salinas also serve up this special brew as they are close friends of Comidas' owner.

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Sa Capella

Not just one of Ibiza's most famous restaurants set in, arguably, the most spectacular of surroundings (a 17th century chapel no less!), once you've polished off the divine food on offer, you can expect to be presented with an entire bottle of their homemade recipe, ice cold and for free, at the end of the meal. It gets better too, because should you and your guests demolish that bottle, they will bring you another one.

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Madagascar

Located in the social hub of Plaza Del Parque in Ibiza Town, Madagascar is frequented by the island's residents all year round. With incredibly reasonably priced drinks and a perfect vantage point for people watching, prepare to bed in for a few hours as the olives and cañas (beers) continue to appear at your table. And watch out! The wonderful Charlotte and Rhonda who work there are pretty loose with the shots of hierbas. You will wonder where the day has gone as evening falls and the square comes alive for the night.

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Fish Shack

An afternoon spent on the rocks near Sa Punta eating freshly caught fish out of a little shack is one of Ibiza's's most simple and enjoyable experiences. To help you digest, the owner Samir will plonk a rather large glass of their homemade hierbas over ice in front of you and allow you spend as long as you like digesting, sipping and gazing at the stunning view over to Dalt Vila.

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Los Pasajeros

This Argentinian steak house is a little hard to find. Hidden up a tiny stairway in Ibiza Town, there are only 12 tables so once again, queuing is a necessity. The food is cheap and delicious - meat done well. Ribs, chops, fillets and escalopes at a bargain price. And at the end of the meal, if you leave a tip, the staff will whack up the volume of the music, have a shot of hierbas with you and dance in the aisles. They are massive techno heads and their choice of soundtrack is usually a Cocoon CD circa 2009. A proper Ibiza local's experience!

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Rock Bar

This hedonistic bolt-hole in the port of Ibiza is completely legendary. Run by the wonderful Beverley Dodds, Rock Bar is the local's hangout of choice and also the first port of call for DJs and celebs due to the discreet nature of the bar and its staff. Expect to rub shoulders with Groove Armada, or be stood next to Jade Jagger at the bar. But beware of the almost superhuman shot swilling abilities of Bev and her team - Didi, Rodka and Matteo. They will have a chupito of hierbas with pretty much every punter and still be laughing and smiling at the end of the night. A true tour de force...

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So there you have it! An island journey via the medium of its favourite tipple. Many romances have bloomed and friendships forged over a chupito or 5 of this cheeky drink. But mark my words, it doesn't travel well and a bottle bought from duty free will remain untouched like a relic from the days when Space had no roof in the back of your freezer.

Next week, I is for Ibiza Town. Take a trip round the best spots in Eivissa on a typical local's day out...

Insider's A to Z of Ibiza


WORDS | Leena Sharma

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