How do Catalan sailors take their rum?

Preparation of cremat. Photo: Josep Renalias.
Preparation of cremat. Photo: Josep Renalias.
Preparation of cremat. Photo: Josep Renalias.

On fire. Catalan sailors have brought a lot of rum back from Cuba over the last few centuries, and tradition dictates celebrating sailors’ return with a beach party fueled by the cremat, Catalonia’s flaming caffeinated rum cocktail. Folks crowd the beach, sing songs called havaneres (also of Cuban import, though with Catalan lyrics) and dance, waving white handkerchiefs over their heads while the bowls of rum burn.

You may, of course, drink flaming rum without sailing to Cuba and back.

Cremat Recipe

In a wide clay pot, combine a liter bottle of aged rum (or a mix of half-rum, half-brandy), 2-4 tablespoons of sugar, the grated peel of a lemon, six coffee beans, and a cinnamon stick. Set this on fire with a long match. As it burns, sing five havaneres; when you’ve finished these, you may use a lid to squelch the flames. (Alternatively, you can put the fire out when about one-half to two-thirds of the liquid is left—the longer you wait, the more alcohol you burn off). Add two shots of espresso (optional). Serves eight.

Where’s the best flaming rum beach party? The beach of Port Bó in the town of Calella de Palafrugell in Costa Brava turns into a handkerchief-waving, rum-soaked party each year for the Cantada d’Havaneres de Calella festival, generally the on the first Saturday of July. Check the town hall’s website for information; there is a marginally comprehensible English version.

I happened upon the following singing of havaneres in the Gràcia neighborhood of Barcelona.

Thanks for reading our treatises on cross-cultural boozing and boinking. On rare occasions, this site contains automatically monetized affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

1 Comment

  1. MeigasEnfurecidas
    August 25, 2012

    These flaming beverages are not exclusively from Cataluña. In Galicia they also prepare something similar, but with aguardiente (clear brandy destilled from wine and other substances). It's called "queimada" (burnt in galician) and when people is preparing it, they read a spell in order to scare away the "meigas" (galician witches).

Leave a reply


Comments Policy

We read the comments; useful additions and corrections are quite welcome, and articles are frequently updated based on comments from readers. • We do our best to delete ethnocentric, xenophobic, and other useless comments. • Offended? Think we've got your culture all wrong? Nationalism (or regionalism, patriotism, whatever) is an understandable reaction; it’s also boring. Disagree with something? Tell us what you think joking, flirting, drinking, sex, dancing and other debauchery in your culture is really like. If you don't like these things, or want to pretend that your culture doesn't have a unique take on them, you're really in the wrong place. • This site, like any cultural anthropology, deals in generalizations. Of course not each and every person does blah, blah, blah... • And finally, before you go thinking this is all about you, you may want to bounce around the site a bit and learn about the ridiculous ways we screw, drink, and dance in other parts of the world.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.