people drinking coffee together

Drinks in Spanish: 140+ Words and Phrases for Naming and Ordering Drinks (with Audio)

In my first week of high school Spanish, I carefully memorized this sentence: Yo quisiera un refresco, por favor. (I would like a soft drink please.)

But in the years that I have since spent out ordering drinks in Spain and Latin America, I’ve never once heard anything close to that.

Instead, if someone walks into a corner bar in Madrid, for example, they’re much more likely to plop down at a stool and say: Una Coca-Cola. (A Coca-Cola.)

In this guide, I’ll present to you how to realistically talk about and order drinks in Spanish, complete with vocabulary lists and practical phrases.

Contents

Bebidas — “Drinks” in Spanish

lemonade with berries and fruits

In general, there’s one all-around term for drinks in Spanish: bebidas . Whether you’re talking about soda, juice, alcohol or even plain water, bebidas covers all of these.

There’s an exception to this, though. Vocabulary can sometimes be different in Spanish-speaking countries, and in Chile, bebidas just means sodas—they call drinks bebestibles instead.

When you look at menus, you might see drinks listed under bebidas alcohólicas (alcoholic drinks) and bebidas sin alcohol (non-alcoholic drinks). In most countries, a trago (literally “gulp”) also refers to an alcoholic drink, though it’s more common to find in spoken Spanish.

As mentioned above, the most standard way to order drinks is with the indefinite articles un or una (“a”) followed by the name of the thirst-quencher. So if you’re thirsty and in a rush, you can order right away using only the first part of the vocabulary list below!

The Names of Drinks in Spanish

Water in Spanish

glass of water

Teas in Spanish

woman soaking a tea bag in hot water

Coffees in Spanish

cup of coffee with coffee beans in the background

  • Un café — A coffee; but you’ll have to be more precise, and order according to the variant that you want:
  • Café solo — Espresso; literally, “just coffee.”
  • Americano — A very long espresso (with more water). Filter coffee, like Americans actually drink, is usually not available in Spanish-speaking lands, but you can ask for café filtrado or café de filtro if you want to try.
  • Café con leche — An espresso with a lot of milk.
  • Cortado — An espresso “cut” with just a bit of milk.
  • Carajillo — An espresso with whiskey or rum, and a bit of sugar. In Madrid, lemon is also added, which is just divine. I was so excited when I first discovered this very Spanish alternative to overblown caffeinated cocktails like Irish coffee and vodka-Red Bull.
  • Descafeinado — Decaf

If you’re in Cuba, note that an offer of coffee is a very clear indication that you should get going.

Juices in Spanish

woman squeezing orange juice into a glass

Sodas in Spanish

bottle of soda poured into glass with ice

Beers in Spanish

friends clinking glasses at a bar

Wines in Spanish

glass of wine at a wine bar

Cocktails in Spanish

cocktail with orange, equipment, and ice in background

  • Un cóctel / Un coctel — A cocktail
  • Cremat — This is not Spanish but a Catalan word and it’s a flaming Catalan-Cuban rum and coffee concoction.
  • Tinto de verano — Wine mixed with soda water
  • Calimocho — A favorite of both teenagers and old ladies in Spain; this is cheap, bad wine mixed with Coca-Cola. One does not usually order it in bars. But oh, the lovely times you can have drinking it in a botellón (flash-mob-esque, young-person street party).
  • Rebujito — A mix of manzanilla (or fino sherry) with 7-Up or Sprite, popular during the Seville Fair and other festivals in Andalusia
  • Paloma — A cocktail made with tequila and grapefruit-flavored soda, and served on the rocks with a lime wedge. It’s popular in Mexico.
  • Un clericot — Similar to sangria but more popular in parts of South America. It combines wine, fruit and sometimes other spirits or soda.

Liquors in Spanish

liquor in a bottle and two glasses

  • Un chupito de… — A shot of…
  • Vodka — Vodka
  • Whisky — Whiskey
  • Ginebra — Gin
  • Tequila — Tequila
  • Ratafía — An herbal digestif
  • Absenta — Absinthe; this is quite legal and even popular in Spain
  • Aguardiente — A type of strong alcohol, often homemade. The name translates to “burning water.”
  • Anís — Aniseed-flavored liquor
  • Coñac — Cognac (specifically a type of brandy from the Cognac region of France)
  • Ron — Rum
  • Ginebra — Gin
  • Mezcal — Mezcal. This is a spirit made from agave—it’s similar to tequila but has a smokier flavor.
  • Grappa — An Italian brandy that might be drunk after a meal
  • Pisco — A grape brandy that’s popular in Chile and Peru. Both countries call it their national drink!
  • Champán — Champagne
  • Cava — Spanish sparkling wine

Other drinks in Spanish

strawberry smoothie or milkshake

  • Horchata — A Valencian drink made from tigernuts (chufas) and served throughout Spain in special horchaterías. In Valencian it’s called orxata, with the “x” pronounced like an English “sh.” This name is also used for similar drinks in other Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Mate — A traditional South American caffeine-rich infused drink, particularly popular in Argentina and Uruguay
  • Batido — Milkshake or smoothie
  • Limonada — Lemonade
  • Sidra — Cider, an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of apples
  • Ponche — Punch, often made with fruits, juices and sometimes spirits. Especially popular around Christmas time in many Hispanic cultures.

Drink-Related Vocabulary in Spanish

ice cubes in a glass

Aside from the names of the drinks, it’s useful too to know about other related vocabulary. For example, taza (cup) is for hot drinks like coffee or tea, but you’d use different words for cold drinks and wine. The Spanish words below will help you customize your drink, ask for an extra glass and even tell a friend that you’re drunk:

How to Order a Drink in Spanish

customer ordering a drink in spanish

The following phrases would be used in the informal register, as presented here, in most standard bars and restaurants in Spain. If you’re in Latin America, you should generally use the formal register with waiters and bartenders as a sign of respect.

If you’re not sure what to order, you can ask what drink they recommend. You can say: ¿Qué me recomienda de tomar? . Here are a few ways to order directly:

For example: 

Me vas a poner un vaso de vino tinto seco. (I’ll have a glass of dry red wine.)

If you’re ordering for a group, state the number and add -s after a drink ending in a vowel or -es after one ending in a consonant.

Dos copas de vino.
(Two glasses of wine.)

Tres carajillos.
(Three rum-coffees.)

Cuatro infusiones.
(Four infusions.)

I grew up in the American Midwest, so, while I know that Spanish-speaking people will almost never use these niceties in ordering drinks, I constitutionally just can’t help myself from slipping them in once in a while:

Por favor — Please

Gracias — Thank you

De nada — You’re welcome (this is what the bartender says, albeit a bit sarcastically, if I’m being overly polite)

Since they’re not really working for tips, Spanish and Latin American service workers can be rude if they’re in a bad mood, and absolutely lovely otherwise. This is something I’ve grown to love—if you have a great interaction with someone who is serving you, you know that it’s real, and not for the tips. 

If you’re at a fancier place and in the mood to learn obscure olfactory vocabulary, before you order you can say:

¿Cómo es este vino? — What is this wine like?

Once you get it, say:

Me encanta este vino. — I love this wine.

Or:

Es delicioso . — It’s delicious.

When you’re ready to leave, wave at the waiter and say:

La cuenta — The check.

Spanish Drinking Phrases and Sayings

friends saying cheers while drinking beer

Here are some fun Spanish drinking phrases:

There are also quite a few well-known Spanish sayings about drinking:

  • El que con vino cena, con agua desayuna. (He who dines with wine, breakfasts with water.) — This is a very concise way of saying that if you drink too much wine (or anything alcoholic) at night, you’ll wake up with a hangover. No choice, then, but to drink water in the morning!
  • Vinos y amores, los viejos son los mejores. (With wines and lovers, the older ones are the best.) — Just as some wines get better with age, relationships that stand the test of time should also be valued. 
  • El vino abre el camino. (Wine opens the path.) — This means that wine is a pretty good icebreaker. Drink enough, and you’ll loosen up. When you drink with other people, it also conveys wanting to relax and spend time with each other.  
  • No existe la mala cerveza. Solo hay unas que saben mejor que otras. (Bad beer doesn’t exist. It’s just that there are some that taste better than others.) — Debate with a friend about which drink is the best, and chances are, nobody will end up winning. This saying just means that which beer tastes great depends on the person. What someone calls “bad beer” might be someone else’s favorite.

 

Armed with all these phrases, you’re now better equipped to order drinks at your Spanish bar or restaurant!

At this point, you should have enough Spanish to know what you want, how to order it and how to wax poetically about it once served.

If you want to see these expressions, and others, in context, seek out content created by and for native speakers (sometimes known as “authentic content”).

For example, the FluentU language learning program starts each lesson with a short Spanish video, so you’ll see how Spanish speakers order drinks and use sayings in real media.

So go ahead and try ordering your drink in Spanish. That’s not a bad way to break into a full evening of speaking Spanish!

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