The History and the Rise of the “Chiringuito”
Just as with good stories, everyone knows the story of the chiringuito (snack bar) but nobody knows its true origin. Common opinion based on some historical facts put the origin of these characteristic beach stands in Cuba.
According to the story, in the 19th century, cane sugar plantation workers stopped to have a coffee, but since they were far from the days of electric coffee makers, they would fill a stocking with coffee grounds and press it until they got enough juice to prepare it. This juice was called “chiringo” and later it was given the nickname “chiringuito.” And from there, the phrase, “let’s go to the chiringuito” was born.
Later, snack stands or bars that were made quickly or with cane and leaves were also called chiringuitos, both because of how they were built and because they were a place to rest in the shade, to escape from the blazing Caribbean sun.
The name took a while to arrive to Spain from there. It wasn’t until 1913 that the term chiringuito was used to refer to one of these types of bars on the beach in Sitges. The intellectual César González Ruano, a client of the place, is thought to be the person who coined the official term for this place of rest.
However, the chiringuito has evolved continuously since then. As a retreat from the hot beach, and because of clients’ tastes, it wasn’t long before chiringuitos began serving a whole series of dishes, most of them very tasty, if not so healthy. Most serve fried fish, bravas (fried potatoes with sauce), calamari, sepia and baby squid of all shapes and sizes, always offered at the most reasonable prices possible, keeping in mind that clientele enjoy these delicacies on the beach in a touristy area that, many times, is quite full of people.
Soon, however, drinks began to be the main players at chiringuitos. This began with cold kegs of beer and red wine. Later, cocktails and mixed drinks started to become available including gin and tonics, whisky on the rocks and other similar drinks… until the arrival of the mojito. When the king of Cuba reclaimed his seat at the chiringuito, Spain was thrilled and now, there isn’t a chiringuito that doesn’t serve this delicious tropical drink, trying to emulate the creations from the original Bodeguita del Medio.
Today, chiringuitos have changed again, and although they seem to have lost their Cuban roots, you can still listen to music from the island of their origin in many of them.
The Ibiza style, with its international influence and taste for Asian styles, has favored a transformation of the chiringuito into something elegant and sharp, with colors that combine the white of the Balearic island with the blue of the Mediterranean sea. Minimalist and Asian influences give them an exotic touch that, in combination with the rest of the elements, makes for 21st century chiringuitos where, as in times of old, lovers of the summer heat can take refuge in the shade with an ice-cold mojito in hand.