December is here and so is all the happiness mixed with a little bit of rush and stress. Unlike any other months of the year, december is that especial season where all families have one of the most beautiful excuses to meet up and celebrate their beliefs and faith, which is for many people: Christmas. In Quito, Ecuador however there is another big celebration that lightens and cheers the whole capital up before Christmas starts and that is the Fiestas de Quito.
If you have read our previous posts, you might already know some background information regarding these “parties” which were made to celebrate Quito’s independence which took place on the 6th of December in 1960. All those who have lived their entire life in Quito or are familiar with this celebration is aware that there are some key components that cannot miss during these holidays in order to live them as a proper Quiteno. Today’s blog post will be dedicated to one of the aforementioned components: the Canelazo.
So, what is the Canelazo? Let’s say we can owe its creation to the breezy and windy nights in Quito during winter. By being located at an altitude of 2,000 metres above the sea, the wind currents may become a little strong and shocking for all inhabitants. However, no one in Quito was going to let just a cold weather stop from having a good time and most important of all: celebrating their city’s independence. Therefore, with a little brainstorming and creativity, people started to try out different combinations from this and that in order to fight the cold and aid the holiday happiness. The best ingredients had to be selected in order to serve the drink’s purpose and so with some tests, the canelazo finally came to the world.
According to the historian Javier Gomezjurado, this drink was first known as “glorious water” or “little sugary water”. The reasons behind these denominations or nicknames are due to the ingredients and components of this drink that give it such distinguishable and especial taste which may be characterized as sweet and sour with a little pinch of alcohol that shocks you up.
The sweetness is derived from the cinnamon that has been boiled in water with brown sugar or “panela” (raw sugar cane). The acidity then comes from the Naranjilla fruit juice that is added to the cinnamon water. For those who are unfamiliar to this fruit, they can picture a similar taste to passion fruit or maracuja. Both fruits are cousins, hence the taste’s acidity can be somehow related to each other. The little secret in this drink that we can say is the most important when it comes to kicking the cold out from you is the so called “agua ardiente”, a type of alcoholic drink that is very popular in Quito and in the entire country of Ecuador for its convenient price, strong taste and easy accessibility. The thing with this liquor however is that its alcohol percentage consists of a value higher than 24%. All of these ingredients are mixed together to become the famous “canelazo” which has an easy taste in the mouth that makes it so likeable and enjoyable.
The canelazo has remained popular ever since. Nowadays, especially during these Fiestas de Quito, if you walk around the city, you will be surrounded by little paper signs offering you canelazos at night and to be honest, once you try one of them, it is hard to say no to a second one!
We want you to feel like a proper Quiteno and celebrate these holidays like a local. Therefore here is a list of the best places to enjoy Quito’s best canelazos!
This place is loved by every local and tourist that visits Quito due to many reasons. The view itself is breath taking as you can not only see the downtown area of Quito along with its churches and beautiful narrow streets and Spanish influence. In addition you can see the contrast with modern Quito and its tall and big buildings.
For centuries, this little neighbourhood has been so iconic to the city. The things that have always characterized it are its narrow streets surrounded by local artisan shops and traditional cuisine. The fact that it is small, makes it so attractive and appealing to all those who visit it. Hence, you will be able to enjoy a great variety of canelazos; from alcoholic to fruity and non-acoholic!
Although La Ronda is indeed a beautiful place full of life and color, there are always other places that are just as special and probably even more but are not yet fully discovered and San Marcos can be found among these. The beauty of San Marcos is that it is still alive in terms that real people who have been raised their entire life in here. Nowadays there are iconic and traditional restaurants and artisan shops that have been ran by families for generations. For that reason, you will most certainly find a very special canelazo in most of the restaurants here!