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Wednesday, September 7, 2011


aloha, alosna, berbaje, berbaje de los moros, bervaje, OArag aygues, Cat. aloxa, alosa (see alosa),  L. aloxia, Ar. aloxa, Eng. 1. If the word(s) is(are) derived from al'ussa, “small quantities of various things,” then aloja was as per the Spanish Royal Academy definition: a drink composed of water, honey and spices.  Villena, concurs describing as a drink that was made with boiling river water, starch, honey to which ginger, long pepper, cloves and nutmeg were added. Font states that it was simply hydromel perfumed with spices like nutmeg and cinnamon and cilantro. It was a summer drink kept cool in basements and served after meals with snow. At Suero Quiñones’ banquets, it was an aromatic drink sweetened with sugar and served after dessert with other drinks such as hippocras (hippocrás), hydromel (hidromiel) and mead (aguamiel) as a digestive stimulant. It was sold on the streets by alojeros. This drink became so popular that by the 17th C Félix Lope de Vega and Francisco Rojas Zorrilla mentioned it in their works and alojeros formed a guild. After that the drink seems to go out of style with the prohibition of mixing snow in it and the rise in prices as alojeros could no longer dilute it.

Told you so
Photo by: Stepheroo
2. If this is derived from the L. aloxĭnum or alonsantus (or Sp. aloha, alosna), some maintain that principally it was a drink consisting of wormwood juice with hydromel, a medicinal drink, to ‘calm the nerves’ or refreshment compared with hydromel and beer. The English definition of absinth is that originally it was an alcoholic liqueur of distilled wine mixed with wormwood. The absinth or absinthe, 106 proof liqueur known today, was not distilled until the end of the 18th C.  Absinthe containing wormwood today is illegal in most countries.

3. If, however, the word is derived from the L. aloxia (Cat. aloxa), it is “the beverage of the Moors” (berbaje de los moros), a drink composed of a piquant aloe, which is as bitter as wormwood. During Arab occupation, aloe was grown in Al-Andalus (see áloe). In other areas of the peninsula it was difficult to obtain. Latin medievalists claim that dictionaries have corrupted the word to the extent that the ingredients of the drink are totally confused. It could be wine perfumed with ambergris, as deduced from Dioscorides’ reports.  Finally, there is a possibility that in Spain the ingredients varied as elsewhere. In Castile, it was a non-alcoholic refreshment for peasants through the Renaissance and then disappeared. 

4. a drink given to beasts as a cure or to fatten.

5. a female lark. See alondra.

[Alonso Luengo. 1994:51; ES: Cortés. 1983:64-67; Font. Plantas. 1999:76; and Villena/Calero. 2002:120-122]

concocted from Villena and Font's descriptions

Swimming in the drink
Photo by: beatified_waterfow

4 1/2 gal water
1 qt honey
1 tsp ginger
1/2 stick of cinnamon
4 cloves
2 peppercorns
1 pinch nutmeg
4 tsp ale yeast


Heat water. Add honey. Skim scum as it rises. Add the rest of the ingredients except the yeast. Boil for one hour. Let cool to 100º F/38ºC and add yeast and mix well, cover and let stand 3 days. Bottle it. Leave in cool dark place for 6-8 weeks before using.  Serve in goblets or martini glasses with crushed ice.

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