Summer Sobremesa; Our favourite Spanish custom

Tuesday 17th Aug 2021 |

We all need a touch of sobremesa in our lives this summer – the new dining custom Brits are bringing to their tables

If there is one thing that the past year has taught us, it’s the value of spending precious time with family and friends. 

Whether that’s treating them to a delicious meal at home or eating al fresco at a favourite restaurant, we can all agree that the company and the conversation are as important as the food itself. 

Freddy May, global ambassador of the honeyed whisky liqueur Drambuie, tells us all about a Spanish dining custom that some of us Brits are already embracing, and we all need a touch of sobremesa in our lives this summer.  

In many countries around the world, the period after the meal is as important as the food itself. In Spain they call it a sobremesa, pronounced so-bray-may-sa, and it’s taken so seriously that if you leave the table during sobremesa, it is said that you have broken the special spell. 

The English translation is ‘over the table’, which according to Freddy May really doesn’t do the occasion justice – as it’s about those invaluable moments after a meal where the conversation is flowing, friendships and family bonds are strengthened and there is nowhere better anyone would rather be. 

Picture this – you’re sat at a table with a special group of family or friends in the evening summer sunshine with the warmth on your skin and there’s a cheerful feeling in the air.

 sobremesa

You’ve finished dessert a while ago and your guests are slightly peckish, so you bring out a beautiful sharing platter for them to delve into. After they’ve enjoyed their full, you all settle into a relaxed, yet bright and jovial mood, making memories together whilst sharing stories and anecdotes. This feeling epitomises sobremesa.

Why are people doing it? 

The sobremesa trend is a pure and casual enjoyment of quality food, drinks and most importantly, good company. 

We’ve placed more significance on seeing our friends and family than ever before and we’re enjoying meeting up with people we haven’t seen in person for a while. What better way to encourage our guests to stay a little longer, relax more and make the good times even more special and last longer, than treating them to a delicious meal. Sobremesa offers a real taste of togetherness and perfectly sums up the mood of the nation at the moment. 

What to serve during sobremesa:

Sobremesa is the period of time after the meal itself – so whether that be the traditional four courses, a variety of smaller tapas style plates or even a summer BBQ, we can all introduce sobremesa when the time feels just right – when all our guests are relaxed, they’ve eaten plenty and the conversation is flowing.  

Shareable cheese and charcuterie platters with biscuits and crackers, chutneys and pickles are perfect for sobremesa, as they are shared between guests, look impressive and provide a talking point for guests to bond over.

It’s traditionally a time to bring out the coffee, petit fours, cheese and chocolate courses and of course the coffee and liqueur selection.  Drambuie call this the fifth course and it’s the time for special drinks serves like the Drambuie Beekeeper’s Honeyed Espresso – a beautiful treat for guests to enjoy after dinner https://www.drambuie.com/en-gb/cocktails/beekeepers-honeyed-espresso/

 sobremesa

How long does it last and how can you do it at home?

Whilst there is no prescriptive set of rules that should be followed to achieve sobremesa, the Spanish say you should do everything to avoid leaving the table, so you don’t break the sobremesa spell. 

In Spain, sobremesa usually occurs after a long lunch and I’ve had occasions when I’ve realised that waiting staff have started to set the tables for dinner, and the guests haven’t noticed because the conversation is still flowing. That’s the perfect sobremesa! 

As a host, if you want to create that special feeling at your next get-together, Drambuie suggests:

  • Preparation – do as much as you can before guests arrive, so you can enjoy maximum time with your loved ones
  • Pretty lighting – light your dining area atmospherically with clusters of twisted fairy lights, lanterns and candles
  • Music – keep the tempo upbeat with a pre-planned playlist of perfect background music to keep the atmosphere light
  • Home bar – create a tray with a selection of delicious drinks like Drambuie, which can be brought easily to the table
  • Make and chill coffee or cold brew in advance
  • Little extras – fill the freezer with ice, prep and cover your garnishes and have different glassware easily available
  • Have small dishes of savoury choices like, nuts and cheese and sweet treats like chocolates and petit fours on hand, to have something for guests to graze on during sobremesa
  • Leave the clearing up – enjoy your guests and don’t break the sobremesa spell by leaving the table early.
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