Cocktails & Spirits

Let's Get Borracho Tonight: Top 5 Latin-American Drinks

I'm sure we can all agree that Latin America has some gastronomic traditions that would make Anthony Bourdain run screaming into the Amazon.

I'm also sure that Latinos sure know how to drink.

Need proof?

1. Aguardiente: At between 29 and 60 percent alcohol, this Colombian drink has enough  kick to be vodka's sexier, bigger-breasted sister. Aguardiente which, by the way, means "fire water," is distilled from sugar cane, giving it a smooth, almost-sweet taste. If you can't make a trip to Colombia, don't fret -- aguardiente brand Cristal is readily available in the U.S. in its many flavors, like "Xtreme Wild" (seriously).

2. Pisco: If you want a drink with some...history, pisco is the way to go. Peruvians have been drinking this grape brandy since the late 1550's, when Spanish settlers began to plant, harvest, distill, and presumably get wasted off their colonial behinds on the stuff. As the drink nears its quincentennial anniversary, it remains hugely popular -- probably due to the infamous pisco sour, a cocktail containing lemon juice, egg whites, syrup, bitters, and, of course, pisco.

3. Caçhaca: Leave it to the Brazilians to make something that's hot, caliente. Caçhaca, which is also known as aguardiente (sound familiar?) and...pinga (cue the 13-year-old giggles) contains a whopping 38 to 80 percent alcohol. So if you get your hands on this fine liquor, you're going to want to make it bearable to drink. Lucky for us, Caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail, is a hugely-popular caçhaca-based beverage.

4. Chispa de Tren: If the Brazilians made something hot, the Cubans went all the way and made it deadly. Chispa de Tren, made from alcohol "de reverbero", is distilled from sugar, and mixed with, well, pretty much everything you shouldn't put in your body -- mainly kerosene or leftovers from the refinery of petroleum. Kind of makes you happy that Cuba's popular alcoholic export is just a rum and coke, doesn't it?

5. Chicha: This moonshine of sorts can be found throughout Latin America, but Ecuadorians liked it so much, that they decided to dedicate a whole freaking festival to it. Commonly consumed in native communities, chicha is made from fermenting maize. My trusty source tells me that it only contains 1-3 percent alcohol, so if you plan on getting drunk on chicha, well, you're going to have to use a whole lot of corn.
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Claudia Santana