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A cantina is a type of bar popular in Mexico and Spain. The word is similar in etymology to "canteen", and is derived from the Italian word for a cellar, winery, or vault. In Italy, a cantina refers to a room below the ground level where wine and other products such as salami are stored.
Types of cantinas
Cantina was one of the foreign words that entered in from Renaissance Italy. During the 16th century, the Spanish Empire included large holdings in Italy. Luis de Bávia wrote in his Tercera y Cuarta Parte de la Historia Pontifical y Católica (1621): "Perdiéndose en las cantinas y lugares baxos [sic] gran número de mercaderías..." ("Losing itself in the cantinas and places of ill repute a large quantity of merchandise...").
In rural Mexico, a cantina traditionally is a kind of bar frequented by males for drinking alcohol and eating botanas (appetizers). Some cantinas are also known for being places where people gather to play dominoes, cards or other table games. Cantinas can often be distinguished by signs that expressly prohibit entrance to women and minors, as opposed to a club, salon de bailar (dance hall), or salon de mariachi (typified by the Salon Tenampa, at the Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City) which are intended for socializing between the sexes. Also, some cantinas explicitly prohibit entrance to dogs and men in police or military uniform. Some of the traditional restrictions on entry to cantinas are beginning to fade away. However, in many areas it is still viewed as scandalous for proper ladies to be seen visiting a genuine cantina.
A cantina in the US is simply a tavern with a Southwestern or Mexican motif that serves traditional alcoholic Mexican drinks. In the 1890s, cantina entered American English from the Spanish language in the Southwest United States with the meaning of "bar room, saloon."
- cantina. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000 Archived May 4, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
- Salame di felino - Naso&Gola Archived May 10, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
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- Con media nuez refers to the Adam's apple, thus making the meaning "just a sip" or "a quick swallow." Habito is a play on words (habit/custom; and tunic).
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- The People's Guide to Mexico (Carl Franz, Avalon Travel Publishing)
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