An outstanding Pityusic potion-making experience.
Ibiza is one of those extraordinary holiday destinations that people revisit time and time again. After a few visits, most will start to realise that the island has so much more to offer than clubs and partying.
The rich Ibizan culture is a fascinating part of the island’s appeal, and unlocking the secrets of the White Isle’s heritage can be a real treat.
After enjoying dinner in Ibiza, it’s customary that before you leave you partake in a complimentary post-meal digestif. Traditionally this tends to be Hierbas (pronounced “year-bas”), a golden aniseed-based liqueur which has been made on the island for centuries.
Some people love it, and for some, it grows on them over time, but have you ever wondered how it’s made?
Enter The Drink Workshop – a masterclass in hierbas craft and history. Chief alchemist Philip Thomas teaches everything you’d want to know about the liquor and guides you in mixing and making your own bottle from a variety of stunning Ibiza locations.
We recently joined him for an afternoon to experience this unique activity for ourselves. Blessed with September sunshine, the chiringuito style bar Soulgood situated on the shores of Es Niu Blau beach served as a perfect location for our workshop.
After taking out seats around an ingredient filled table, Phil told us a bit about his background. Originally from New Zealand, his passion for alcohol production stemmed from his travels around the world and his ten years living in Ibiza.
The wonderfully informative presentation that followed showcased his impressive knowledge of hierbas, from its long history to unknown facts. For example – did you know that most traditional recipes call for 18 different herbs to be used? or that Ibiza’s climate makes it the perfect environment to grow the required ingredients? It was nuggets of wisdom that made us feel like we were getting to know all the secrets of this alcoholic elixir.
Next was a hierbas tasting session, an activity which everyone thoroughly enjoyed for sure! Phil guided us through the flavours of Mari Mayans, Can Rich and Aniseta Ibiza, each glass distinctively tantalising our tastebuds. By far our favourite blend was Phil’s very own secret recipe, with the team going back for a second and third round!
Suitably refreshed, the workshop moved onto learning about the ingredients that make up hierbas. Herbs and fruits like thyme, chamomile, sage, rosemary, rue, mint, orange & lemon can be all found all over the island, each one adding a new twist in hierbas recipes.
These ingredients are then combined with aniseed, which Phil makes out of vodka, fennel and sugar. He stores this in a beautiful demijohn – a uniquely shaped vase made to ferment alcohol.
Phil continued to drop some sweet hierbas facts on us, educating us in the ways of hierbas production. One of the more surprising educational tidbits was learning all products named Hierbas’ Ibicencas’ are solely made in Ibiza, backed by EU law to maintain authenticity.
Following a quick demonstration, we moved onto making our own bottles. We trimmed, sliced and pruned each ingredient, poking them into the bottles piece by piece. All of the Team Discover laughed and joked around the table as our “masterpieces” took shape.
This activity had certainly brought out a temporary passion for arts and crafts. The last step in the mixing process was the addition of the aniseed liquid, expertly poured in by Phil.
Putting a cork in the top, Phil informed us that we must wait between 3-4 months before we drink our creations as it takes that amount of time for the ingredient to infuse together.
We commemorated the afternoon by sticking personalised labels onto the bottles with our name, date and the alcohol volume (25%) added, giving each bottle a personal touch. The final flourish was dipping the bottles in hot red wax, sealing them until Christmas time, when we’ll be able to drink our hierbas handiwork.
Discover Ibiza would like to take this opportunity to thank Phillip for being such a fantastic host and for taking the time to show us the secrets of hierbas production. His workshop is both genuine and captivating, making it an inimitable experience for anyone visiting the White Isle.
If you and your amigos fancy making your own bottle and learning more about the golden liquor that is hierbas, you can book in an afternoon with The Drink Workshop here.
Connect with The Drink Workshop