Leave it to José Andrés to introduce Las Vegas to a new and exciting way to drink. The pioneer of Spanish avant-garde cuisine has imported to two of his Strip restaurants what’s becoming a dying art form in his native country. A porrón is a traditional Spanish glass wine decanter that’s shaped vaguely like a watering can (or a bong, if that image works better for you). Wine is poured into the top, and consumed through the spout on the side. The catch: Your lips aren’t supposed to touch the glass so that many drinkers can share one porrón. What’s become something of a challenge for bragging rights over the years, however, is to see how far away from your face you can move the porrón without spilling the wine all over yourself.
At the intimate, eight-seat restaurant É by José Andrés, guests begin their meal by sharing a porrón of cava (Spanish sparkling wine). “It’s fun, it loosens people up,” explains É executive sous chef Cody Jeffs. “It opens up a conversation with us and maybe between the guests.”
While a porrón is traditionally used to serve cava, red wine or cider, at Andrés’ tapas restaurant Jaleo, it’s used to pour any beverage on the menu. That includes cocktails as well as all non-alcoholic drinks. And if you want to take your drinking game on the road, servers offer custom-made plastic porróns to go.
If you’re a little nervous about drinking out of a porrón for the first time, ask your waiter for the computerized wine list on a tablet. There, you can watch a video demonstrating beginner, intermediate and advanced techniques. Here’s how Jaleo and É general manager David Oseas describes each level:
1. BEGINNER: “Somebody who is starting [with the porrón] very close [to their mouth]. They’re not pouring a very large stream out of the mouth of the porrón. They may be spilling a little bit.”
2. INTERMEDIATE: “They may be extending their arm a little bit. The stream is flowing from a farther distance, and they’re able to take a couple of gulps before they’re done.”
3. EXPERT: “An expert is able to fully extend his arm all the way out. He’s drinking a lot of the liquid—many, many gulps. Clearly he knows what he’s doing.”
But Jeffs says those are only American standards. In Spain, some porrón drinkers take the art form to even higher levels “Some people shoot [the beverage] off their cheek and down into their mouth, and some people shoot it by their eye and still drink it,” he explains. No one at Jaleo has mastered those techniques yet. But practice makes perfect, and they’re more than willing to help you practice the next time you’re in the Cosmopolitan.