It’s the islands quintessential liqueur, the smooth amber nectar made with over a dozen local herbs and aniseed that is served everywhere in Ibiza, from the lowly kebab shop, to the high altar of VIP society. Its an acquired taste but a very addictive one. It’s easy to drink and its high alcohol content can leave even the hardened partygoer with a very distinct Ibiza style hangover. Alongside Es Vedra, a contoured bottle of Hierbas is one the island’s best known icons, invented by Balearic Monks in the Middle Ages for medicinal purposes and said to relieve coughs and rheumatism along with being an excellent digestive. Traditionally, many Ibicenco families have their own Hierbas recipe handed down through generations and some of these home brews are the best. With such a proud and honoured pedigree here is our personal guide on the Top 5 Hierbas bottles in Ibiza.
#5 Sa Capella Hierbas
This is the first Ibiza Hierbas I had the good pleasure to taste. It was left down on our table after a meal at the traditionally classic Ibicenco restaurant Sa Capella, housed in a non concerscated church on a hill overlooking the port of San Antonio. You can almost feel the Monks who invented the drink in presence here. Its syrupy and smooth with no herb flakes floating in it. Its sweet taste packs a punch and as its not sold over the counter, it’s hard to define its alcohol strength but don’t fall into the same mistake as we did by finishing the bottle left to us on the table, an inherent Irish trait I’m afraid, as it kicks in like a Spanish mule when you get outside.
#4 Can Anneta Hierbas
The most famous Hierbas and probably the one that exposed the liquor to a World audience thanks to the Hippies that drank so much of it at the legendary Bar Anita in San Carlos back in the 60’s and 70’s. This family Hierbas has a special licence from the Spanish Government to allow it to be sold to the public, hence making it the only homemade Hierbas in Ibiza that can be purchased legally over the counter. Sweet in flavour and not as heavy as Sa Capella, its hand bottled and corked in local herbs, which adds to its round flavour. With an alcohol content of 23% it can pack a sweet punch.
#3 Can Rich Hierbas
The first of the commercial entries to our Top 5 Chart. Sold as Hierbas Ibicencas, the classic term for the liquor, it’s a quality product from Bodega Can Rich and a popular one with the locals on the island. Smooth, sweet and semi heavy, its rich in flavour and is the nearest crossover Hierbas from being an after dinner digestive, to a trendy bar drink. The respected Can Rich brand adds value to this bottle of popular Hierbas.
#2 Hierbas Aniseta
First produced in 1925, this is a classic Hierbas lauded by the experts on the island as one of the best you can get. The Aniseta shop in Ibiza town, just across from the Formentera Ferry terminal, is a Gallery to the art of Hierbas making, complete with the copper vats and wooden kegs that are used to make the drink. The Aniseta store has the widest variety of Hierbas bottles on sale anywhere on the island, including a bottle that has an alcohol content of 47%! Its an Artisan and quality Hierbas with a number of varieties available so its difficult to describe in general. Suffice to say there are sweet versions and not so sweet and its best to go in and try them for yourself as the shop offers free samples before you purchase. As quality goes, Hierbas Aniseta in our opinion, is the best one.
#1 Mari Mayans
The islands best know commercial Hierbas that is commonly sold for chupitos due to its lighter consistency. It’s not very sweet, so easy to drink and comes in a distinctive Es Vedra stamped bottle. The reason we rated this one as #1 was for its all round versatility, blend, taste, body and drinkability from its unique, slow pour patented bottle . Mari Mayans have got the balance just right to enjoy this as a bar drink over ice as well as an after meal hierbas. It’s the one I keep coming back to after trying all the others, as its so easy to drink over ice. Its sold with herbs and without, but I like to refill my Bar Anita bottle with Mari Mayans which adds to its flavour. This family made Hierbas enjoys a good local reputation and is marketed the best, which has helped it become the dominant Hierbas brand on the island with its distinct, designer bottle, shaped in the contour of a traditional Ibicenco farmer.
Now that we have listed our Top 5 Hierbas bottles on the island, here is our guide on how to drink them
How to Drink A Hierbas
- The traditional way to drink Hierbas is over two cubes of ice and served in a small brandy glass so that your nose can smell the sweetness and quality of the herbs contained in the drink.
- While most local restaurants will serve you the branded, bottled Hierbas, some will have their own homemade Hierbas contained in undercounter bottles. This is the one you need to ask for.
- Local tradition has it that the best Hierbas is made from herbs that are picked on the night of a full moon. So if you can track down a bottle of this you are the Indiana Jones of Hierbas exploration.
- In recent years, the Hierbas “chupito” has gained popularity as a drink to say thank you for your custom and a beginning of new friendship. When toasting a Hierbas chupito, it is important to look into the eyes of the other person when raising your glass.