If you should ever find yourself in Colombia, do not forgo the opportunity to sample at least one of the following drinks. Your trip would not be complete without this experience, and partaking in a couple of rounds is the quickest way to befriend a Colombian.
Need to Learn Colombian Spanish?
I recommend you check out my ebook Quick Guide to Colombian Spanish to learn more vocabulary and read the previous article 10 Drinks You Must Try Before Leaving Colombia that also includes non-alcoholic drinks.
6 Alcoholic Drinks from Colombia
This is unquestionably Colombia’s national drink. No Colombian celebration (or ordinary Saturday night) is complete without multiple shots of Antioqueño, Nectar or Cristal – Antioqueño being the most popular brand by far. Every South American country has its own variation of aguardiente, but Colombia might just be the biggest consumer of ‘firewater’. Colombian aguardiente, or “guaro”, is derived from sugarcane and flavored with aniseed. Its alcohol content hovers around 29%, and although it can be found along the length and breadth of the country, it is most popular inland. Inhabitants of the Caribbean coast generally prefer rum.
Definitely the runner-up for the title of Colombians’ favorite alcoholic drink. Local rum is of a pretty high quality, and fairly inexpensive. Native Colombians prefer their rum on the rocks or neat, and Ron Viejo de Caldas or Ron Medellin Añejo are usually the top choices.
Also known as pola, chela or birra, Colombians enjoy a cold brewski as much as anyone else. There is a wide selection of national beers available, mostly lagers, including perennial classics Águila, Pilsen and Costeña and the more premium Club Colombia. In recent years several micro-breweries have emerged across the country to produce a variety of unique, award-winning craft beers that are definitely a must-try for any connoisseur. Tres Cordilleras, Apostol and Bogotá Beer Company are three such craft brewers.
This delightfully refreshing concoction is made up of equal parts beer and Colombiana soda, a champagne cola somewhat similar to cream soda. Refajo is the preferred accompaniment at any asado (barbeque) or a long, leisurely Sunday lunch.
Many South American countries have a variation of this drink, as it is typical of the indigenous peoples of the Andes. In Colombia it is made from fermented corn and sugar or honey, and sometimes pineapple as well. Consumption is not as widespread as other drinks mentioned in this article; it is mainly consumed in rural areas, but some bars and restaurants in large cities do serve it. It is worth noting that in some areas the corn is ground and chewed in the mouth of the chicha maker, so keep that in mind if you are the finicky type.
Aguapanela (water with melted sugar cane), cinnamon, lime juice, cloves and aguardiente combine to make this delicious hot drink that is the perfect libation for a chilly evening. This beverage is basically liquid comfort. And if you remove the aguardiente from the recipe you can take advantage of its proven benefits as a home remedy against colds. Or you can keep the guaro, it’s up to you. Either way, bottoms up!
Check out these other Colombia Culture articles.
Featured photo credit: Getting ready to pitch @VoiceBunny to the @emtechcolombia crowd #aguardiente #tr35colombia by alextorrenegra, on Flickr
Photo Credit: Hugo Londoño