Resolí is a traditional liqueur from the city of Cuenca which can be found in the Spanish region of Castilla-La Mancha. It is most commonly consumed around religious festivals including at Christmas and Easter time in the city and forms an important part of the culture of the city. Recipes for the Spanish liqueur vary depending on the family on the producer so you should make sure you try as many different varieties as possible.
Resolí is normally eaten with something sweet, including the typical dish called alajú from Cuenca. The drink has a relatively low alcoholic content compared to other Spanish drinks, as it ranges from 16 to 18%, however again this depends on the ingredients used. The drink is a rich coffee liqueur, but depending on the recipe used, can have a multitude of different flavours. In bars, it is common to drink resolí by itself or with ice.
On the other hand, it is much more traditional for people to drink resolí from a porrón when they are at home, which is a large glass bowl with a spout, from which the drink is poured directly into the drinker's mouth from a great height. The idea of this piece of glassware is to allow the drink to be shared between family members or friends.
History of Resolí
The early origins of this drink are mostly unknown. Some people believe that the drink has Moorish origin, originating in the times of the Moorish occupation of Spain. Others however, believe that the resolí actually comes from Italy, hence the rather Italian sounding name. Regardless of its origins though, resolí has somehow or other become a large part of the culture in Cuenca.
Resolí must have been produced before the year of 1809, as this was the year that the Joseph Bonaparte, who was at the time the King of Spain, freed up the production, distribution and sale of resolí among a number of other drinks, with an official decree. At this time, the drink was highly appreciated as a digestive aid, and even the wife of Napoleon III wrote about the fantastic qualities of the liqueur. To this day, the drink is still used for digestive problems, however that is not an excuse to drink it all the time, as excess consumption of the liqueur is unadvisable.
Production of Resolí
The traditional recipe comes from production in people's homes; hence it has been passed down from generation to generation, and varies from house to house. In general however, the ingredients usually consist in coffee or a coffee liqueur, dry anís or an aguardiente, cinnamon sticks, slices of lemon and orange, sugar, cloves and water.
Traditional factories used to sell resolí liqueur in ceramic bottles that resembled typical symbols from the city of Cuenca. Many were made to look like the typical houses of the city called 'casas colgadas', while others were shaped in the form of 'nazarenos', the religious men who form a procession through many cities in Spain at Easter time who wear a characteristic long, white robe with a tall pointed hood. This meant that you could have both an ornament and a drink in one go and they certainly helped to spread three of the main attractions from the city of Cuenca across the globe: the Casas colgadas, the nazarenos and resolí licor.
These bottles are much rarer nowadays, and resolí is more commonly found in plastic bottles, however you can still find them in specialist shops in Cuenca. Some of the modern versions have got funky labels; however they do still carry some reminders of this traditional bottles, including images of typical casa colgadas and navidenos. Make sure you keep an eye out for them in the Spanish supermarkets and shops.
Those of you who study Spanish in Spain or abroad will probably have noticed that the word Resolí carries an accent on the final 'i', which in Spanish normally indicates a rise in intonation. However, in spite of this, the word is always pronounced Resoli, without the accent, in the city of Cuenca.