In Ireland and the UK, the universal drinking measurements are a pint or half a pint
(frowned upon for anyone other than designated drivers)
Ordering a drink in Spain however can be a complicated affair if you venture beyond the safety of ‘the local’, particularly so when you cross regions when it becomes the wild west of measurements and names.
For starters, It’s fairly common to order a caña – a small drink measurement typically between 250-330ml, in fact, there does not seem to be a universal set measurement, one mans caña is not anothers.
Ordering a caña, is common for German levels of practicality, it’s a European continental measurement, enough to be sociable and enjoy the taste and your company without inebriating you for rest of your day, also most importantly in my eyes, with a smaller measurement, your drink doesn’t get warm in the Spanish sun.
Now this is where our predicament comes in, being from Ireland it’s a bit too much out of my comfort zone to ask for a caña on anything other than the hottest of days for above reason.
Worse yet, it seems cañas and bottles are so much so the norm in the non English dominated parts of Spain that merely asking for a Ceverza will get you one of these measurements atypical of a country without a drinking problem.
So of course, I’ve been trying to learn the Spanish word for pint, however much like the Spanish can’t seem to agree on a set measurement for a caña, they can’t agree to a name for a pint.
Spanish Pint names, an Irishmans confused introduction
Pinta, you would think would be a fairly common term given the resemblance to the English word and believe it or not, its existence in the Spanish language to mean “pint”, so imagine my surprise given my horrible Spanish and timidity speaking it when, having asked for a pinta in a bar in the basque country, the barman looked at me with an incredulous expression
“Pinta? No You mean a cañon!” Or So I was told, I didn’t understand his response. So armed with this new information, I tried again, this time in a small bar in La Rioja,
“Una pinta por favor” – Ah dammit I forgot the other version of the word, nevermind though same expression different response.
“Una Pinta senior? You mean una jarra?”. I just nodded my head, half expecting him to return with a jam-jar styled pint glass they keep in Granny Annies back home as a novelty. He did in fact return though, with a regular Heineken pint glass.
Finally, asking for “Una Pinta” in Castellon also drew a confused stare, after explaining what we meant further, the bar man says… “Ahhhhh un Tanque”
So in summary, I know how to order a pint with 4 different words and somewhere, none of them will make sense and I’ll no doubt learn a 5th.
So if you’re going to Spain, learn from my mistakes, or be a total wild card instead and ask for a litre instead just to see the expression on their face.
I won’t spoil it but long story short, I was the first customer ever to do it.