Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Tabancos of Jerez

The word “tabanco” is thought to derive from tabaco/estanco meaning a wine and olive oil shop also selling tobacco, usually state run with profits going to the crown. The term is peculiar to Jerez and not used elsewhere, although similar establishments certainly exist all over the Marco de Jerez. Their history dates back over four centuries, with the word “tabanco” first appearing in municipal archives in 1592.
Tabanco el Pasaje as it was in the 1920s, Also known as La Fortuna
They began more as wine shops often related to a particular bodega, and some workers would meet here for a bracer before they began their daily toil, and many would meet there afterwards as well. Various types of wine were served straight from the rows of barrels. The floors were earthen and there were bullfight posters everywhere along with notices saying “Hoy no se fía, mañana si” meaning no credit today, only tomorrow (and tomorrow never comes), or “Prohibido el cante” meaning no singing. Women were not allowed except to get the family wine bottle filled, but had to use a side door or a window. Most were happy enough with this as the tabancos could be quite rough.

Tabanco La Pandilla
After decades of decline, the last fifteen years or so have seen these wonderfully old fashioned bars enjoying a well-deserved renaissance. No longer “spit and sawdust”, they not only allow singing but actively promote flamenco, Sherry tastings and the culture of Jerez. High quality food is available and while each tabanco has its own specialities, most also serve the traditional dishes such as berza (vegetable stew with meat), chicharrones (small marinated and spiced strips of pork) and papas aliñás (potato with spring onion, parsley, oil and vinegar). Luckily this has attracted some of the younger generation who see this as cool, and it will hopefully preserve the Sherry drinking tradition as well as the historic character and atmosphere of Jerez itself.

Tabanco San Pablo Really good chicharrones...
You will notice from the lists below how recently many were established, which is an encouraging sign, and while some are a bit more modern in appearance, many look as if they have been there for a century. In 2012 five tabancos got together and formed the association “Tabancora” to promote both themselves and Sherry traditions, and drew up a leaflet with a route map so people could follow it and try them out. They are all in the city centre, so one can enjoy a “tabanco crawl” on foot! Tabancora has the support of both the City Council and the Consejo Regulador, and the leaflet is available from the latter and the tourist office in Plaza Arenal.

The following are members of Tabancora:

La Pandilla C/Los Valientes, 14 (long established but closed for 20 years, reopened 2013)
El Pasaje C/Santa María, 8 (est. 1925)
El Guitarrón de San Pedro C/Bizcocheros, 16 (est. 2012)
Plateros Plaza Plateros C/Francos, 1 (est. 2011)
San Pablo C/San Pablo, 12 (est. 1934)
La Banderillas C/Caballeros, 12 (est. 2012)

The following are not currently in Tabancora but well worth a visit:

La Vinoteca Jerezana C/Arcos, 4 (est.1947 - no kitchen but good range of bottled Sherry)
Taberna La Sureña C/Puerto, 7 (est. 1993)
Mariñíguez C/Mariñíguez, 20 (est. 2013)
El Tabankino C/Idolos, 15 (est. 2014)
Cruz Vieja C/Barja, 16 (est. 2014)
El Telescopio C/Ávila, 16 (est. 2013)
Tabanco Romate C/Francos, 18 (originally est. 1997, converted 2012 by Romate)

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