Ritual From on High: The Porrón Poureth
The porrón is the bong of booze: a traditional Catalonian wine drinking vessel, the porrón has spent centuries being passed around and filled with host-selected spirits so that a single beverage can be shared, spilled, splashed, and laughed over.
It’s a glorious mess when poured wrong, and sublimely celebratory when done right. It’s a functional novelty steeped in history, enabling communal consumption from a single vessel with none of the spit swapping. A porrón, poured from on-high, showcases the finesse of the person holding it as the chosen libation cascades out, contents changing based on mood, time of year or time of day.
My first porrón encounter, of many, was sensationally electric. It came from above, by which I mean above me, from a bartender standing on the bartop. The crowd was three-deep behind me and the noise level tripled when the porrón made its appearance. Looking more like a bong than a wine glass, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but, whatever venn diagram exists of glass decanter and canteen- the overlap clearly meant something. The crowd went wild as the bartender strutted the length of the bar, pouring who knows what from four feet above the guests who were not-so-patiently waiting, ready to ‘baby-bird’ as their friends snapchatted along.
The who knows what part? That matters. No one asked what it was; no one cared. Whatever was coming out of that porrón, we were all in it together. And as I’d hoped, it was delicious and unexpected, smooth yet edgy, and though I couldn’t tell you what I drank up that night, I can still tell you how it looked coming down.
I got a porrón for myself and introduced my friends to its charms. Mine has been filled with margaritas, mimosas, mezcal, and plenty of youthful mencias. That’s because I’ve learned the secret to the ritual: what’s being poured is less important than who you’re pouring for. The porrón is recipient agnostic - it simply wants you to have a good time.
Lean back. Close your eyes. Trust that the drink will reach your mouth … or it won’t. In either case, the outcome will be laughter. Deep, core-shaking laughs shared by people you’re glad are there with you because the idea is the splash. The fun. The mess. Once you’ve mastered it, you might pull the porrón further away from your face, arching into a dramatic stream for full effect. Or, you could just play it safe. The porrón gives points for flair, but far fewer drinks.
The porrón is disarming. It's sculptural and beautiful in its stillness. It doesn’t care what you serve in it, as long as it makes people happy. And it inspires all the communal connectedness we crave and deeply need ... especially now.