Patxaran is made by soaking sloe berries, collected from the blackthorn shrub, along with a few coffee beans and a vanilla pod in anisette. The process produces a light sweet reddish-brown liquid around 25-30% in alcohol content by volume. In addition to dictating the amount of sloe to be used, the regulating body for Pacharán Navarro insists that no colourings or flavourings be added and that the maceration last between one and eight months.
Known to have existed in Navarre as early as the Middle Ages, Patxaran was initially a home-made liqueur of rural Navarre and became popular during the late 19th century. It was commercialised in the 1950s and then became very popular outside Navarre. One theory for this rise holds that young Navarrese took bottles with them while on National Service, thereby popularising Patxaran throughout Spain. Currently, there are moves to ensure that the drink’s name will be protected in order to ensure its quality, tradition and Navarrese identity.