The story of the most authentic liquor in Madrid: arbutus liqueur. To know the origin of this famous liquor from Madrid, we have to go back in time to the story of a Spanish bear and a strawberry tree.
History of El Oso y el Madroño
As you may already know, a bear and a strawberry tree is the symbol that represents the city of Madrid.
The origin of this icon comes from the Middle Ages when the capital was founded. At that time, the most abundant animal in the nearby mountains was the bear (el oso). Consequently, citizens risked encountering one of them if they went for a walk along the roads.
Furthermore, the strawberry tree (el madroño) was one of the most common trees in the forests that ended up belonging to Villa de Madrid after the division of land between the City and the Church.
This is why the city council decided to bring these two local elements together to make up the symbol of the city.
Certainly no one overlooks the sculpture of El Oso y el Madroño located in La Puerta del Sol, the main square in Madrid and Spain’s Km «0» (the central point from which the kilometers of Spanish roads begin to be counted).
In the 1960s, Madrid City Council promoted a series of different acts to give visibility to the symbols of the city, among which was the development of a sculpture. The sculptor Antonio Navarro Santafé, was the one who gave shape to the piece.
Thus it was in 1967, carved in bronze, on a stone pedestal about 4 meters high that the Madrid symbol of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree appeared. This statue has changed location several times, but has always been in the same square.
History of arbutus liqueur (Licor de Madroño)
To understand what this famous liqueur is and how it was born, it is necessary to first understand its composition.
The Madroño Liqueur is an Arbutus Unedo destilate, which means «tree from which only one fruit must be eaten». This is because the fruit of the strawberry tree has the reputation of intoxicating since it is capable of fermenting and producing alcohol.
On the other hand, it has always been thought to have healing properties and even today it has been shown to be a highly beneficial fruit for curing urinary and kidney infections.
As early as the XIV century it was known that King Philip IV made use of the healing properties of this characteristic fruit. At that time, after every meal, he drank a cup made by crushing the fruits of the strawberry tree and adding wine alcohol.
The liqueur we know today is thanks to the famous artisan Cruz Palomo, who created his recipe in the mid-1940s. As he told in an interview in 1984, it all began as a result of an «overdose» of the berries.
Cruz Palomo was in his hunting field and felt hungry, so he decided to eat a few of the berries which were unknown to him at that time. He began to feel dizzy and euphoric at the same time.
«I thought it was a strong rise in blood pressure and I went to the doctor, who told me that the only thing wrong with me was that I was drunk because of the berries. As a result, I started to use it and prepared a liqueur to put inside chocolate bonbons. I then decided to bottle it and offer it as a tribute to the village of El Oso y el Madroño”.
Would you like to taste El Oso y el Madroño?
Now that you know all about this exquisite liqueur, it is time for you to try it, because it is the most authentic liquor in Madrid.
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