Botas in a market in Barcelona; photo by Flydime

Botas in a market in Barcelona; photo by Flydime

Sure, you could take a bottle of wine on a picnic in Italy, or a flask of vodka on the Peter-Moscow overnight train.

But the best road drinking gear is Spanish: the bota.

These drink sacks are made from leather with an inner lining of goat bladder, pitch or — nowadays — more durable, food-safe latex.

bullfighter drinking from a botaThe chief convenience is that with a bota you don't need (and shouldn't use) wine glasses, you rather squirt your drink of choice directly into your mouth.

Note that your mouth shouldn't touch the bota directly at all. This is the thrill and danger of drinking from a bota. With just a bit of practice, one can imbibe while dressed as flamboyantly as a bullfighter without worrying about wine dribbles down one's tie or tights.

And, when out of the bullring and passing through, say, an airport, botas conveniently function like collapsable travel liquid travel water pouches; they take up little space in your carry-on luggage, so you can get through security checks without a hassle, refill with water, and then travel hydrated.

If you're out in the sun, you can wet the outer leather skin of your bota with water; its evaporation naturally cools the contents.

Traditionally botas were used with cognac, wine, or water, but the modern latex-coated interiors mean1Here is an explanation of the evolutions in bota technology in Spanish that you can use them with soda, juices and any other liquid.

How to Use a Bota, the Ingenious Spanish Leather Wine Sack

  1. Grasp the bota with one hand by its middle; a beginner may want to use two hands, with the helper hand guiding the nozzle.
  2. A novice should also begin with the tip of the bota as close to their mouth as possible.
  3. Tip back your head slightly, open your mouth wide and squirt.
  4. Stop the flow of wine/water/whatever with a quick, sure movement. Also, do remember to close your mouth! Many beginners execute the first three steps flawlessly, only to spill wine out of their still-open mouths when finishing off the move.

Buying a Bota in the United States

There are various options available in the States; one brand that gets generally positive reviews and comes in different sizes is Rothco; there are one-liter and two-liter versions.

   [ + ]