Pacharán – Patxaran

Blackthorn or Sloe Berry Liqueur

Zoco brand of Pacharan
ErikHK/Wikimedia Commons

Patxaran in Basque, or Pacharán in Spanish is a liqueur that originally made from the blackthorn or sloe berries that grow wild in Navarra, a region in the north of Spain. Pacharán is now a very popular liqueur all over Spain. It is made from the berries of the blackthorn or sloe bush, called endrinas in Spanish. The sloe berries are the size and shape of a plum, are black-blue with a purple-blue waxy bloom and are harvested in the fall.

The finished liqueur is a reddish color and is 20-30 degrees alcohol.

Although pacharán gained in popularity in the last century, it is a very old drink, dating back to the Middle Ages and now has a Denomination of Origin as of 1988. According to the website of the Consejo Regulador de Denominacion, Pacharán Navarro, the Regulating Council for the Denomination Pacharán, the liqueur was served at royal weddings in Navarra as early as the XIV century and was recognized for its medicinal properties by Blanca de Navarra, a queen of Navarra in the Middle Ages.

The process to make pacharán is fairly simple:

  1. Fill a bottle about one-third with very ripe sloes.
  2. Pour semisweet spirit with anise flavor into the bottle.
  3. Add a cinnamon stick or ​coffee beans, if desired.
  4. Seal the bottle and let stand for 2-4 months. Occasionally shake the bottle.

Serve cold, (about 45F or 7C) in a brandy snifter without ice, as it would dilute the liqueur too much as it melts.

Best served at the end of a meal, it is said to have medicinal properties that help with digestion.

Pacharán is available in supermarkets and liquor stores everywhere in Spain. It is available in liquor stores in the USA that have specialty or international sections.